'They can save Gorgie Farm why can't we save this special place too?' Mum appeals for cash to save Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World
A Midlothian mum is calling for the public to rally round and save Butterfly and Insect World, after owners confirmed “with regret” the popular attraction will shut its doors for good.
Heartbroken Mhairi Whyte, whose son Alex, 17, volunteered for more than a year at the Lasswade site, said staff and team members are devastated after learning Dobbies do not plan to reopen it.
But she said the recent success of bringing Gorgie Farm back from the brink has given her hope that the famous institution can continue.
Bosses said it was with regret that they made the decision to close the popular wildlife attraction permanently after the financial impact of Covid-19 forced them to review their future.
Dobbies Garden Centres, which owns the site, also confirmed that consultations are underway with eight team members – though it’s understood some have already been made redundant.
Loanhead mum Ms Whyte is appealing for people to come forward to help raise cash to save the attraction.
Ms Whyte said: “We are gutted. It will be a disaster if its shut for good. Alex hoped to work there one day. It was the world to him.
"He got to prepare food, clean and handle animals. He got to give a talk once. He is so into the animals and looking after them that he now collects reptiles and we have four tanks at home.
"That has been what kept him going throughout lockdowns. It’s a devastating loss for so many.”
She continued: "They saved Gorgie Farm. Why can’t Butterfly World be saved too? It’s a special place.
"If they can tell us how much we’d need to raise to save it and keep it going then I’ll do whatever I can.”
"If people come forward I’d be happy to help set up a fundraiser. I hope people who could inject much needed cash will also come forward.”
Following the reopening of garden centres last August, the out-of-town attraction welcomed customers back temporarily for pre-booked visits, but it shut again in November and has remained closed since.
The attraction opened in 1984,and is understood to be the world's longest running indoor butterfly house.
It’s home to many reptiles, animals, butterflies, bugs plus a gift shop and outdoor play area.
Ian Gardener, Chair of the Midlothian Tourism Forum said: “This is very sad news for Butterfly World's staff and volunteers and for all who have supported it over the past nearly 40 years.
"The attraction was a popular destination for local residents and visitors to the area alike and had built up a strong reputation for its educational work and for being a good place to visit. It will be greatly missed as an attraction for visitors and as an asset for Midlothian.”
Butterflies and insects at the site are to be rehomed within the next few months.
A spokesperson for Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World said: “It is with regret that we confirm that Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World will not reopen. This has been a difficult decision, but like many similar businesses the exceptionally challenging circumstances made it necessary to review our future.
“Our priority is to support team members and the safe relocation of the animals. Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World is working closely with independent zoo and wildlife consultants to ensure that the appropriate plans are in place to safely resettle the animals over the coming months.
“There are no current plans for the site.”