Great Plains Zoo's Delbridge Museum closing
The Delbridge Museum of Natural History is closing its doors to the public.
The museum has been part of the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls since 1984. It features one of the largest collections of taxidermy in the Midwest.
Great Plains Zoo spokesperson Denise DePaolo said it comes down to a health issue. All the specimens in the exhibit were processed prior to 1980, when taxidermy used stronger, potentially toxic chemicals. While railing barriers and "do not touch" signs have been in place since the museum's inceptions, the risk for exposure increases as the specimens continue to age.
Zoo officials reassessed the exhibit as part of the master planning process brought about by the merger of the Great Plains Zoo and the Butterfly House & Aquarium. The city of Sioux Falls, which operates the zoo through a partnership with the Zoological Society, was also involved in the decision-making process. The organizations agreed to decommission the collection "out of an abundance of caution" for the safety of visitors and staff.
The city and the zoo will work with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to dispose of the mounts in the collection. Officials said this will likely take several months.
In its press release announcing the closure, the zoo also included the exhibit's history. The specimens were collected over many decades in the mid-1900s by Sioux Falls businessman Henry Brockhouse. Sioux Falls attorney C.J. Delbridge purchased the collection in 1981 and donated it to the city "for the benefit of the community."