Butterfly World staff call for closure plan U-turn

image copyrightButterfly World
image captionButterfly World opened in Hertfordshire in 2009

Staff at a struggling butterfly sanctuary, which has announced plans to close, have urged its owners to change their minds.

Butterfly World in Chiswell Green, St Albans, which is currently shut for the winter, has confirmed it will not be reopening next year.

Centre chairman John Breheny blamed a "succession of trading losses".

An open letter to Mr Breheny from staff which was posted on Facebook said: "We beg you to reconsider."

Founded by lepidopterist Clive Farrell, the tourist attraction opened in 2009, housing more than 600 tropical butterflies, and about 500,000 people have visited.

image copyrightJuliet Morton
image captionPatron and EastEnders star Jake Wood opened the British Butterfly Garden at the centre earlier this year

The plan was to build a 100m bio dome for 10,000 butterflies, but it has not been able to attract the financial investment to build it.

'Overwhelming support'

The letter said, signed by the Butterfly World Team, said since the closure announcement, they had received "overwhelming support from the public" who had expressed "dismay, sadness and a determination" to try to keep the centre open.

"We are all concerned about your future plans for the site, which you have not shared with us," it said.

The team goes on to ask the owners to "work with us, and the local community, to find a way to make it financially viable".

A petition set up on the change.org site on Wednesday by supporters calling themselves Save Butterfly World was signed by more than 1,300 people in less than 24 hours. Another on The Petition Site has almost 500 signatures.

Announcing the closure, Mr Breheny said the level of trading losses could only be sustainable if there a "realistic hope" of building the bio dome.

Staff have said they are confident the sanctuary could turn a profit f they were "give

Since the announcement, the owners have not made further comment.

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