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Some patrons of the National Zoo have stiffened their spines after officials closed the popular Invertebrate Exhibit during the weekend.
Dennis Kelly, the zoo's director, says the 27-year-old exhibit was closed permanently Saturday due to mounting costs. The exhibit, which was housed in the basement of the reptile exhibit, needs $5 million dollars in upgrades that the zoo cannot afford.
The invertebrate display houses a collection of shellfish and other marine life, as well as spiders and insects. All invertebrates, which make up more than 95 percent of all species, are characterized by their lack of a spinal column.
Kelly also says closing the underfunded exhibit will allow his staff to shift the exhibit's remaining resources to other areas of the zoo in need of attention.
An online petition has been created in an effort to convince zoo officials to change their course. So far the site has collected more than 3,200 signatures.