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Great Plains Zoo & Butterfly House Vote to Merge

The boards of directors for the Great Plains Zoo (GPZ) and Butterfly House & Aquarium (BHA) have unanimously voted to merge the two organizations.

Effective January 1, 2023, the Zoological Society of Sioux Falls and the Butterfly House & Aquarium Board of Directors will be known as Sioux Falls Zoo & Aquarium (SFZA) Board of Directors. This newly merged organization will operate the two beloved destinations of the Great Plains Zoo and the Butterfly House & Aquarium. 

“This merger is possible because of outstanding support from our community, our donors, and our partners at the City of Sioux Falls who share our vision,” said GPZ President & CEO Becky Dewitz. “We know that we’re stronger together – and together, we will further our mission-related impact for education, conservation, and incredible animal experiences that live in our hearts for a lifetime.”

Both GPZ and BHA will continue to operate in their current locations on their respective campuses. 

“Plans are in development to undergo a major renovation at GPZ’s current location on South Kiwanis Avenue over the next several years,” said BHA CEO Audrey Otto-Pepper. “Once the renovation is complete, we will have one consolidated campus providing a dynamic experience that features animals from land, sea, and sky – creating a remarkable destination for our community and visitors.”   

Additionally, the ROAR of lions is returning in 2024!  The lion exhibit design is complete, and the project will be bid this fall.  Construction is anticipated to begin in 2023, with the exhibit opening in 2024.

The Zoological Society of Sioux Falls was formed in 1957, opening The Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History in 1963. It is currently home to 500+ animals from 120+ species.

The Butterfly House & Aquarium opened in 2002 as a butterfly conservatory, adding aquariums in 2011. It is currently the only public saltwater aquarium in the Dakotas – and one of the few year-round butterfly houses in the Midwest.

  • Love this zoo! Great place to get a walk in and the animals are everywhere! The museum/indoor part is very educational too. Has a lot of shade for when it's hot out. Very clean. Friendly staff.

    Taylor F.
  • We love to visit the zoo. They have great outdoor exhibits and lots to do inside as well. Great for kids and adults.

    Robin A.
  • Lots of great exhibits and animals to see! Fun gift shop and learning center.

    Stephanie N.
  • The museum gives you a break from the sun on hot summer days and has a great selection of animal exhibits from around the world. ¬†The zoo keeps growing and adding new animal habitats or improving existing ones. ¬†Membership offers reciprocal benefits to other zoos around the country.

    Bill T.