Simplified: The Delbridge Museum of Natural History has closed to the public, the Great Plains Zoo announced Thursday. Here's what we know.

Why it matters

  • The museum – which featured a collection of taxidermy – first opened in 1984 after Sioux Falls attorney C.J. Delbridge donated it to the city. Delbridge bought the collection of animals from the estate of Sioux Falls businessman Henry Brockhouse.
  • Brockhouse procured his collection between the 1940s and the 1970s. At that time, it was common to use strong chemicals in the taxidermy process, a news release from the zoo stated. As those specimen continue to age, there is more potential for chemical exposure.
  • The decision also comes in the months after the zoo's merger with the Butterfly House and Aquarium. As the two nonprofits come together on one site in the coming years, they're looking at the "best use" for every area on the zoo's 40-acre campus, a news release stated.
"This difficult decision (to close) was reached after extensive discussion, research, testing, and consultations about best practices to manage aged taxidermy with experts at other reputable museums," the release stated.

What happens next?

The Sioux Falls City Council must declare the collection as surplus property.

The city and the zoo will then work closely with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to safely disposition the mounts in the collection, a process that could take months.