To rescue its insect zoo, Smithsonian calls on the Orkin Man


WASHINGTON -- To spiders, scorpions, termites and othe creepy crawlies, Orkin Pest Control is the enemy. But to hundreds of insects at the Smithsonian Institution's insect zoo, the Orkin Man is a friend.

The Atlanta-based company contributed $500,000 for renovation of the popular exhibit at the Museum of Natural History, which will reopen in September as the "O. Orkin Insect Zoo" -- after Otto Orkin, the company's founder.

The gift highlights the Smithsonian's funding dilemma. The sprawling complex's needs are outstripping its public funding, but the search for alternative resources is raising accusations of a sellout.

"This is a blatant example of commercialism moving in on the Smithsonian," said Michael Jacobson, president of the Center for the Study of Commercialism. "They're turning it into an advertisement for exterminators in general and Orkin in particular."

The zoo renovation is not the first time the Smithsonian has worked hand in hand with commercial sponsors.

With funding from Paramount Communications Inc., the Air and Space Museum staged a "Star Trek" exhibit last winter. A gallery in the Museum of Natural History's hall of gems and minerals will be named after jeweler Harry Winston, who donated the Hope Diamond in 1957.

However, the Orkin insect zoo will be the first Smithsonian facility to display a corporate logo at its entrance.

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