The Rise and Fall of the Philadelphia Insectarium: A Story of Mismanagement and Neglect

The Rise and Fall of the Philadelphia Insectarium: A Story of Mismanagement and Neglect

Former employees shed light on the troubled history of the Philadelphia Insectarium

The sudden closure of the Philadelphia Insectarium this summer left many of its loyal patrons and animal enthusiasts shocked and saddened. Once a thriving hub of education and conservation, the insectarium’s demise revealed a long-standing history of mismanagement and neglect. Former employees and community members have come forward to shed light on the financial and operational struggles that plagued the institution, ultimately leading to its downfall.

A Landmark in the Community

David Dlugosz, a local resident, reminisced about the countless visits he and his children made to the insectarium over the years. He praised the interactive and engaging approach of the education staff, who went above and beyond to make the experience memorable for young visitors. Dlugosz expressed sympathy for the employees, acknowledging their pivotal role in making the insectarium a beloved landmark in the community.

Leadership Failures and Lack of Resources

Former staffers and insiders reveal a trail of mismanagement that plagued the insectarium under the leadership of CEO John Cambridge. The museum suffered from a lack of resources for animal care and staff training, resulting in a subpar experience for both employees and visitors. Former employee Nick Clark described the institution as Cambridge’s vanity project, lacking proper management and oversight.

Financial Woes and Legal Troubles

The insectarium’s financial troubles reached a breaking point when it was evicted in June for failing to make mortgage payments for years. With debts close to a million dollars, the institution struggled to keep up with its financial obligations. Additionally, ongoing lawsuits, including one related to a visitor’s tragic death, further burdened the insectarium. The family of the deceased visitor filed a lawsuit alleging negligence on the part of Cambridge and the organization responsible for the museum visit.

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Code Violations and Safety Concerns

City records reveal a history of code violations at the insectarium, painting a picture of a facility in disarray. Violations ranged from unauthorized modifications to fire code violations and improper use of the space for private events. The Department of Licenses and Inspections conducted inspections and received complaints about the insectarium’s operations, including a private party involving known gang members.

Animal Care Neglect

Former employees highlight the lack of resources and training provided for proper animal care at the insectarium. Without a comprehensive system for tracking the animals’ well-being or written instructions, employees often had to rely on their own research and knowledge. Staff shortages further exacerbated the challenges, with employees often left to handle animal care responsibilities alone.


The closure of the Philadelphia Insectarium serves as a cautionary tale of mismanagement and neglect. The institution’s downfall was a result of financial struggles, legal troubles, code violations, and a failure to prioritize animal care. The loss of this once-beloved landmark highlights the importance of responsible leadership and adequate resources in maintaining educational and conservation institutions. As the community mourns the insectarium’s closure, it is a reminder of the need for transparency, accountability, and proper stewardship in preserving our cultural and educational treasures.

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