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Five acre insect zoo to open in Norfolk countryside

PUBLISHED: 16:31 07 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:31 07 August 2020

BugzUK is hoping to launch a zoo which will allow visitors to handle insects. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

BugzUK is hoping to launch a zoo which will allow visitors to handle insects. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

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A Norwich businessman is hoping to open a zoo hosting exotic invertebrates from tarantulas to millipedes in the Norfolk countryside.

Martin French who runs BugzUK would like to expand his collection of insects to create an insect zoo. Praying Mantis PHOTO: Nick ButcherMartin French who runs BugzUK would like to expand his collection of insects to create an insect zoo. Praying Mantis PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Martin French launched BugzUK more than 20 years ago in a six-by-six metre shed in his garden but by April 2022 is hoping to open a zoo spanning five acres.

Mr French has given notice to submit an application for a zoo license to Broadland District Council for the site at the former Norfolk Wildlife Park at Lenwade.

The zoo will feature a restaurant and shop as well as initially between 15 to 20 show areas hosting invertebrates.

Martin French who runs BugzUK would like to expand his collection of insects to create an insect zoo.
Scorpion Martin French who runs BugzUK would like to expand his collection of insects to create an insect zoo. Scorpion "Flat Rock" PHOTO: Nick Butcher

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Visitors will also be able to handle certain insects to know more about their conservation.

Martin French who runs BugzUK would like to expand his collection of insects to create an insect zoo.

PHOTO: Nick ButcherMartin French who runs BugzUK would like to expand his collection of insects to create an insect zoo. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Mr French said: “Growing invertebrates was a hobby that got a bit out of hand. I’ve gone from doing it in my garden shed to opening a zoo.

“There is no other zoo that will be similar to the one I’d like to open. We’d like to open initially with about 15 show areas and then add a show area every year until we get to about 40. Each viewing area will host a difference species, from scorpions to beetles.”

He added that a key aim of the site, which will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to build, will be to teach visitors about how they can support nature.

“We’d like to do some educational stuff particularly around bees. I think a lot of people see some bees in their garden and feel like it’s enough, but we actually need hundreds in every garden. We’re hoping to inspire younger generations to be more aware of this,” he said.

Mr French says he hopes to employ around 12 people at the site, but is well aware not all visitors will be entirely comfortable with all the species.

“There will be a lot of people who will come here because it’s unlike anywhere else. We’ll be operating it on a one-way walk through system but I’m aware that a lot of people are genuinely scared of some insects. There will be the option to duck out of some rooms – I’m wary that some people may not want to walk through a room with 20 or 30 tarantulas in it,” he said.


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