Mayor TenHaken Assembles Work Group to Specify Next Steps for Delbridge Museum of Natural History

Mayor Paul TenHaken has convened a diverse group of individuals to develop a plan for the surplus of the taxidermy collection at the Delbridge Museum of Natural History, which includes more than 150 mounts, the majority of which have tested positive for various levels of arsenic. As they work alongside staff from the City of Sioux Falls and the Great Plains Zoo, the work group is tasked with developing a plan for each specimen.

“I’ve heard some of the concerns the public has on this collection, and this work group will help us create a plan to move forward. 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,” said Mayor TenHaken. “We collaborated with City Council leadership on this strategic pause to bring a clear plan forward that identifies what will happen to each specimen.”

The work group will meet on a regular basis and will be led by Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Director Don Kearney and Great Plains Zoo CEO Becky Dewitz. The individuals who have agreed to participate in the group are Councilors Rich Merkouris and Alex Jensen, Sioux Falls Zoo and Aquarium Board Chair Jeanelle Lust, Parks and Recreation Board Member Mick Conlin, and two community members, Ally Brandner and Jeff Scherschligt.

“I trust these respected individuals will do their due diligence to present prudent, realistic, and specific surplus options for City Council’s consideration so we can move forward,” said TenHaken.

According to state law SDCL Ch. 6-13, a surplus declaration generally allows the City to sell, trade, loan, destroy, or otherwise dispose of any property which is determined to be no longer necessary, useful, or suitable for the purpose for which it was acquired. In relation to the taxidermy collection at the Delbridge Museum, state law strictly limits the options for any collection of historical artifacts or other materials housed in a museum or other display owned by a municipality to gifting it to a 501(c)(3) that agrees to display or store the collection within the state of South Dakota. The work group is expected to have a surplus plan prepared to publicly present to City Council before the end of the year.

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