SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The mayor of Sioux Falls has assembled a work group to help determine the fate of the roughly 150 taxidermy mounts of the Delbridge Museum of Natural History.
Mayor Paul TenHaken announced today that the group will “work alongside staff from the city of Sioux Falls and the Great Plains Zoo.”
The work group is expected to have a surplus plan prepared to publicly present to the city council before the end of the year, according to the news release.
The work group announcement comes after several members of the Sioux Falls City Council said at a Sept. 5 meeting they wanted to pause the process of decommissioning the taxidermy mounts. The Delbridge Museum was closed on Aug. 17 because, officials said, arsenic was detected in about 80% of the mounts.
Zoo and city officials have said there is no acceptable level of arsenic. The museum was closed as a precautionary measure to protect employees and the public.
“While we know the mounts cannot stay on the Great Plains Zoo’s campus in their current condition, we ultimately need city council to declare the collection surplus to move forward in any capacity,” TenHaken said in today’s news release. “We collaborated with city council leadership on this strategic pause to bring a clear plan forward that identifies what will happen to each specimen.”
Members of the workgroup are city council members Rich Merkouris and Alex Jensen, Jeanelle Lust, the chair of the Sioux Falls Zoo and Aquarium board, Mark Conlin, parks and recreation board member and two community members, Ally Brandner and Jeff Scherschligt.
The group will be led by Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Director Don Kearney and Great Plains Zoo chief executive officer Becky Dewitz.
KELOLAND News has contacted the mayor’s office with additional questions about the process. The story will be updated when any additional information is received.