Zoo details what led to closure of museum where 170-specimen collection has been on display for decades
Public health, safety cited by taxidermist
A process that started a year ago with the goal of assessing and then relocating the decades-old collection at the Delbridge Museum of Natural History ultimately led Great Plains Zoo leadership to determine the only option was to close it.
As part of working through its master planning process, the zoo hired a taxidermy expert last summer to assess the 170-specimen collection.
“We’d been looking at the museum for quite some time. There’s visible deterioration on a number of the mounts,” Great Plains Zoo CEO Becky Dewitz said.
The assessment “basically looked at their condition — are they cracking — and he categorized the specimens on a chart from excellent to poor condition. And we have specimens that meet every category. We have some in poor, some in excellent, moderate; it ranges.”
Through that conversation and with future uses for the space in mind, the zoo began looking at potential options for the collection. Some specimens were beyond the point of repair, but others potentially could have found new homes, Dewitz said.
“Every organization we spoke to said, ‘Have you tested them, based on their age?'”
Working with an independent lab, the zoo ordered and performed swab tests for chemicals on the collection and sent them in for analysis.
Two weeks ago, the results came back, and “we determined it was prudent for us to close the museum proactively to ensure public health and safety,” Dewitz said.
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