The Invertebrate Exhibit at the National Zoo is no more (so sad, this was one of my favorite exhibits at the zoo). This Sunday the exhibit closed its doors according to an article in NPR by Bill Chappelle.
The zoo says its exhibit of cuttlefish, butterflies, spiders, and other spineless animals, which first opened in 1987, needs $5 million in upgrades, along with $1 million annually. But officials say their fundraising priorities lie elsewhere, including a renovation of the zoo’s Bird House.
The exhibit of spineless animals “is not included in the zoo’s five-year strategic plan or its 20-year master plan,” the AP said Monday. “Plans call for a future Hall of Biodiversity, including invertebrates.”
Invertebrates lack a spinal cord and make up ~97 percent of all animals. Common invertebrates include worms, insects, clams, crabs (crustaceans), octopuses, cuttle fish, starfish, and snails.
Two of the most popular and important genetic model organisms are invertebrates, the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) and the nematode (Caenorhabditis elegans). The use of these animal models by biomedical researchers has lead to huge discoveries in many biomedical research fields, including neuroscience, genetics, and biochemistry. These models have also been extensively used to study the genetics and molecular mechanisms underlying many human diseases. Both of these animal models have also been involved in research that led to scientists winning the Nobel Prize.