MP demands answers from Butterfly and Insect World owners over money as efforts to save attraction collide with brick wall


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The Evening News revealed last week that the owners of the popular attraction confirmed they had made the “difficult decision” to close its doors for good after the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Thompson, SNP MP for Midlothian, said he had been told by the owners of Dobbies Garden Centers that the site would require a “significant capital investment” to save it.

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A Chilean pink tarantula and an African royal python at Butterfly & Insect World PIC: Greg Macvean
A Chilean pink tarantula and an African royal python at Butterfly & Insect World PIC: Greg Macvean

Following a meeting with their CEO Graeme Jenkins, Dobbies declined requests to provide a figure on the amount needed on the grounds that it is commercially sensitive information.

But Mr Thompson said clarification was needed on liquidity to help advance talks with potential investors or other community groups. He urged Dobbies to stop dismantling the site until all options are explored.

Despite its popularity, Dobbies said the decision was made not to relocate the Lothians Institution, which opened in 1984, and that there are no plans for the current site.

MP Owen Thompson asked for answers on Butterfly and Insect World shutdown

They also confirmed today that the process of relocating butterflies and other insects is complete, but said they could not specify where they will be moved.

Meanwhile, the company has increased sales by more than 50% in its latest accounts and has continued to demonstrate “resilience” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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After the garden centers reopened last August, the out-of-town attraction temporarily welcomed guests for pre-booked tours, but it closed again in November and has remained closed since.

Mr Thompson said it appeared the decision was made some time ago to close the doors without community consultation.

He added: “Dobbies have told me they are open to talks, but so far they have been very tight-lipped on the details we need to get things done.

“It has been an important community resource for almost 40 years and we want it to be. If Dobbies can’t or won’t make it work, I urge them not to hinder efforts to advance a solution. I am eager to explore every possible fundraising opportunity, but without the facts we quickly hit a brick wall.

“I understand that the Dobbies have started to relocate the animals, and we need to find out more about what has happened so far. It looks like they were quietly planning to close the doors and go out of business without a word to say. no one – but the community won’t I would ask them to stop any further dismantling of the Butterfly and Insect World facilities at least until we have time to explore the options.

“This month, the Big Butterfly Count encourages us all to discover the importance of butterflies to a healthy environment, so it is a step back for this important educational center to close its doors for good.

“Butterfly and Insect World teaches respect for creatures of all shapes and sizes. With the right marketing and support, Butterfly and Insect World could be an even greater resource in bringing visitors to Midlothian.

“As the climate change summit heads to Glasgow, let’s not let the Lothians down by losing our world of butterflies and bugs. I urge Dobbies to provide the facts on finance. Let’s keep this as a center of learning. for local communities and visitors from far and wide to enjoy. “

A spokesperson for Dobbies said: “The decision to close has been difficult, especially as we recognize the role the attraction played in Midlothian.

“The placement process is complete and we have worked with independent zoo and wildlife consultants to ensure all animals go to licensed zoos and specialist collections with high welfare standards.

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