An organisation planning to build the largest freshwater aquarium in the world may have to abandon the project.
A research complex planned for redundant land faces financial crisis
The National Institute for Research into Aquatic Habitats (NIRAH) received £3m in loans to develop a business plan and seek planning permission.
Directors say they need £300,000 more or they will have to call in receivers because the money is running out.
The research complex and aquarium, four times larger than the Eden Project, was to be built at Stewartby, Bedfordshire.
The 40-hectare complex in an old brickworks is the brainchild of an international team of biologists and conservationists.
Receivership is alternative
It would be designed by Nicholas Grimshaw, who was responsible for the Eden Project in Cornwall.
The world's largest aquarium would be stocked with tropical trees and plants and populated by thousands of species of freshwater fish, amphibians and reptiles.
NIRAH directors are to meet on Wednesday to discuss project finances and are hoping to enlist Bedfordshire County Council as one of their backers to provide the extra funding they need but the alternative is to go into receivership.
They hoped the centre, funded by the revenue from scientific research and development as well as visitor income, would boost understanding of the Earth's freshwater system and the animals that rely on it.
With more funding to gain planning permission the centre could be up and running by 2010.
However the project has attracted criticism from groups who campaign against animals being kept in captive environments.