‘It’s Tiger King meets Ace Ventura’: the wild true story of the world’s biggest insect heist

A room swarming with thousands of giant, exotic creepy-crawlies may sound like your worst nightmare (or one of Ant and Dec’s Bushtucker Trials on I’m a Celebrity). It is also the starting point for Bug Out, the latest bizarre true-crime documentary series, which is set in the US’s first bug zoo, the Philadelphia Insectarium & Butterfly Pavilion. Prepare for a mystery with more twists than a worm colony.

The show focuses on the moment in August 2018 when the museum’s boss, Dr John Cambridge, arrived at work and did a double take when he realised his room, that ought to have been full of critters, was suddenly empty. Glass tanks were upended, shelves bare, displays cleared out. Thousands of live bugs, worth an estimated $50,000 (£38,000), had been stolen. It was the biggest insect heist in history.

Many of the missing animals were rare, large or potentially deadly – in some cases, all three. The thieves’ haul included scorpions, tarantulas, rhinoceros cockroaches and a six-eyed sand spider. That spider is one of the world’s most venomous arachnids, with a bite akin to that of a rattlesnake. There is no known antidote.

The aspiring director Ben Feldman – not to be confused with his namesake actor, AKA Jonah from Superstore (“One of my interviewees was so disappointed,” he laughs) – was working as a lawyer in Philadelphia, his home town, when the heist news broke. Its value as a story that he could film made his ears prick up.

Watch the trailer for Bug Out.

“I’d heard of the museum,” the 37-year-old says via video call. “Lots of school trips go there. It was set up by this ex-cop called Steve Kanya. Back in 1975, he had a pest-control company called Bug Off. As a publicity stunt, he’d put his ‘Catch of the Day’ in the store window – a huge cockroach, a termite colony or whatever. He noticed that cars kept pulling over to look at it and thought: ‘Huh, there’s something here.’ That developed into the first insectarium in the…

Read full story at the guardian.com

ALSO READ   What the papers say – June 8

Leave a Comment