The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, is closing its doors due to a large volume of threats from right-wing conspiracy theorists who believes the sanctuary was actually being used to help smuggle illegal immigrants into the U.S.
The center, located right near the U.S.-Mexico border along the banks of the RIO Grande, had become the focus of theories and threats after a complaint was filed to block the construction of former President Donald Trump’s border wall, which the sanctuary claimed would be a threat to the butterflies’ habitat. However, with the threats that have multiplied since that move, the center now feels the need to close up for the foreseeable future.
“We regret to announce that the National Butterfly Center will be closed to the public —both members and visitors—for the immediate future. This difficult decision was made Tuesday evening, Feb. 1, 2022, by the board of directors of the North American Butterfly Association, in the wake of recent events targeting the center,” a statement released by the sanctuary on Wednesday read.
The management board for the center officially decided that the threats have become a direct concern for the safety of its employees. This came after an emergency closure from Jan. 28-Jan. 30 due to “credible threats,” Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the North American Butterfly Association, said in the statement.
The sanctuary serves as a safe place for more than 200 butterfly species, as well as bobcats, coyotes, peccaries, armadillos and Texas tortoises.
National Butterfly Center Director Marianna Treviño-Wright told HuffPost on Tuesday that the center is going to “seek expert advice” on how to handle the situation before reopening.
“The board’s paramount concern is the safety of staff, members and visitors,” Trevino-Wright said.
“So for that reason, they have made the decision to close the center for the immediate future while they seek expert advice and formulate a plan that will best serve our interests and public safety moving forward,” she added.
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