The Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo is the idea and creation of its proprietors, brothers Lindsay and Edward Heyes. Having obtained Planning Permission in 1984, they put up pump-priming capital for H. Barrie Jones to build the World of Butterflies two years later, and were inaugural Directors. Barrie was a very experienced and gifted amateur entomologist and horticulturalist, and was responsible for managing the collection while the brothers looked after administration and marketing.
While the World of Butterflies was still on the drawing board, new legislation and regulations came into force - the Zoo Licencing Act 1981. Lindsay Heyes assisted Barrie in resolving legislation compliance issues which included establishing a formal system of insect husbandry for breeding and nurturing the butterflies. Barrie advised the National Federation of Zoos on areas where the new regulations conflicted with the best practice for the care of lepidoptera. He was personally thanked for his work by Sir Peter Scott, then President of the NFZ and of the British Butterfly Conservation Society, who during a formal visit described the World of Butterflies as ?the best zoo of its kind?.
The brothers left the company after three years to concentrate on other business, but never lost the interest they had developed in lepidoptera. Barrie retired after twelve years, when the premises were taken over by a new proprietor. The new tenant had no interest in the challenges of butterfly husbandry, and changed the use - to the horror of the brothers. Then Foot and Mouth Disease struck cattle, the countryside was closed to prevent the spread of the disease, and the tourist industry was laid to waste. Starved of cash, the new owner eventually deserted the former zoo.