WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Crowds swarmed the National Zoo to view the Invertebrate House on Saturday. It was an emotional last day for the public and staff to view the exhibit, which the Zoo says it's closing because of budget reasons.
Visitors said goodbye to the spiders, crabs and sea life. These spineless creatures are what mesmerize the minds of visitors at the National Zoo. James Sneeringer from Alexandria says his favorite is the cuttlefish.
But after Saturday, visitors won't be able to see that anymore as the Invertebrate House closes its doors after 27 years.
"It's really terrible they're shutting its doors. It's always been one of her favorite places because all are at kid level," said Sneeringer who brought his 18-month-old daughter.
They've come to say farewell. It's a much harder day for people such as biologist Tamie DeWitt who's been a part of the research lab there for years.
"I've been here for 22 years. It's the best exhibit in the zoo," said DeWitt.
Employees and volunteers were only told Monday that Saturday would be the last day for the public to view the Invertebrate House. They don't know where these creatures will go, but they assure us they'll find a home somewhere.
Dozens have responded to the Zoo's Facebook page, unhappy about the decision and the short notice. A Change.org petition was set up and more than 2,600 people had already signed it by Saturday afternoon.
The annual operating cost for the Invertebrate Exhibit is $1 million. The exhibit currently needs an estimated $5 million in upgrades to equipment, life-support systems, building infrastructure and exhibit interpretation.
But the exhibit is not part of the Zoo's future plans in the next 20 years.