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Over 80 species of insects, spiders and lizards valued at $40,000 were stolen from the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion last month. The heist accounted for more than 80 percent of the museum’s collection.
“I’m not sure there’s ever been a larger live-insect heist,” John Cambridge, the museum’s owner, tells CNN. “Our insurance doesn’t cover this. Why would they? This is unprecedented.”
The FBI has since joined the investigation, because some of these creatures were being held as evidence in ongoing investigations.
Although there are suspects, no arrests have been made. According to 6 ABC Action News, police reported that the suspects captured on surveillance video were employees of the museum. The police plan to arrest at least four suspects over the next several days.
Cambridge and his colleagues decided to check the security camera footage after noticing insects were missing from their display cases and in the back room storage area. “And then [we] just put our head in our hands for the next 12 hours as we put the pieces together,” he tells the Washington Post.
Following the theft, two of the three floors of the insectarium were shut down. The museum’s team is collaborating on acquiring thousands of new insects and rebuilding exhibits for a grand reopening in early November.
“Humanity has managed to name roughly 1.9 million organisms in the world. And of that number 1.1 million are insects,” Cambridge tells the outlet. “We plan to come back even stronger.”
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