Letter: Spiders welcome

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Sir: Colin Tudge's plea on behalf of the invertebrates at London Zoo ('The importance of being invertebrate', 13 July) reminded me of the kindness my tarantula and I were shown by the staff of the Insect House in 1979, when I was a student.

A boyfriend had brought a tarantula back from the Caribbean in a sandwich box and had given it to me as a love token. Not wishing to appear ungrateful, I kept it for weeks in a shoe box on top of a hot water bottle in my college room.

I advertised for advice about how to care for the unfortunate creature, whom I named 'Boris'. However, nobody replied and I became increasingly concerned, as Boris refused all the worms and insects I had persuaded the college gardner to collect for me.

One dreadful day, Boris vanished. Nervously, I paced my room, armoured in wellington boots, searching for him. Fortunately, I found him attached to the lid of the shoe box. This was the final straw, but I couldn't bear to kill him. Someone suggested that I should stamp on him, but I was already filled with guilt about the terrible life he was leading.

I took the train and then the underground to London Zoo, with Boris on my lap in his box. I was directed to the Insect House, where a kind man took Boris and offered to care for him. Apparently Boris was a young female. I gave her to the insect man and she lived at London Zoo for many years until, tragically, she had a bad moult and had to be 'put to sleep'. I gather they used paraffin to suffocate her humanely. No stamping was involved.

Yours sincerely,


Shepshed, Leicestershire