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In Pictures: Creator of insect zoo is bitten by the franchise bug

Carol Maier wants to capitalize on the notion of a storefront attraction

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Carol Maier ran the Victoria Bug Zoo, a storefront attraction in the West Coast city, until 2014, when she sold it. Now she wants to open one in Vancouver and franchise the business. Here she is holding an Australian stick bug named Matilda at the University of Victoria.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Globe and Mail

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Ms. Maier is looking for a business partner. “Somebody who is young enough and can bring cash, and lots of sweat equity and run the business day to day,” she said. The original bug zoo concept came to her in the 1990s. Having studied entomology (insects) and apiology (honeybees) at the University of Guelph, she was sitting at a traffic light in Victoria years later and realized that she wanted to use her science degree in a business. Here she holds a Chilean rose hair tarantula.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Globe and Mail

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Here’s another insect popular at bug zoos – a green mantis. Ms. Maier financed her zoo with a few thousand dollars from her retirement savings and money from friends. Within three days, local media were on her doorstep. Word got out, attendance rose and within a year she was making enough of a profit to pay back her $30,000 in student loans.

Carol Maier

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Here Ms. Maier is pictured a few years ago with a variety of katydid. Adding to the collection of live bugs over the years allowed her to travel the world. She acquired a skill for getting around the red tape governing the transportation of insects internationally, which is of course highly regulated.

Carol Maier

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An emperor scorpion, another creature that was popular at the Victoria Bug Zoo.

Carol Maier

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Ms. Maier, here pictured with a Malaysian jungle nymph, has come a long way from the attitude her family had on the sugar beet farm where she grew up in southern Alberta. Back then, the only good bug was a dead bug.

Carol Maier

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