Feb 3, 2022 - Energy & Environment

National Butterfly Center closes after right-wing harassment

Photo of a red-bordered Pixie butterfly landed on a plant with green leaves and white flowers

A red-bordered pixie butterfly at the National Butterfly Center in Mission. Texas. Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images

The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, said Wednesday that it will shut down "for the immediate future" after facing ongoing harassment rooted in right-wing conspiracy theories.

Why it matters: The nonprofit nature reserve, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Rio Grande Valley, became a target after it sued the Trump administration in 2017 disputing its planned U.S.-Mexico border wall.

  • The center said the wall would cut its property in two and damage the environment, according to NPR.
  • It said last Friday that it would close temporarily over the weekend due to "credible threats" involving a nearby rally headlined by former President Trump.

What they're saying: In the announcement, the center called the closure an "unexpected business disruption caused by false and defamatory attacks directed by political operatives."

  • "We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may cause to members and visitors, many of whom plan trips months in advance, to experience this truly exceptional place," Marianna Trevino Wright, the center's executive director, said in a statement.
  • "The safety of our staff and visitors is our primary concern," added Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the center's parent organization the North American Butterfly Association.
  • "We look forward to reopening, soon, when the authorities and professionals who are helping us navigate this situation give us the green light."

What to watch: It's unclear when or if the center will reopen, though the announcement noted that staff will remain paid.

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