Update: Brookshire's World of Wildlife Museum hopes to reopen after safety evaluation

Published on Thursday, 14 September 2017 12:02 - Written by ROY MAYNARD, rmaynard@tylerpaper.com 

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Brookshire’s World of Wildlife Museum & Country Store as well as the adjacent playground area is closed to the public.

In a statement, Brookshire Grocery Co. said the facility was closed out of an abundance of caution following an ammonia leak from an adjacent facility on Sept. 1.

“This location will remain temporarily closed until we have taken every possible measure to ensure the highest degree of safety for our visitors and staff,” the statement issued Monday read. “Although OSHA has given us the all-clear to reopen, we are going above and beyond and taking proactive measures to perform extensive diagnostic testing following a recent ammonia leak at one of our warehouses.”

The company said the move is temporary.

“The Brookshire’s museum and playground are too big a part of Tyler, Smith County and East Texas not to reopen,” the statement reads. “We appreciate our friends, neighbors and community’s patience and understanding as we pursue every avenue to ensure their safety on all future visits.”

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said it did not order the museum’s closure.

In a statement to the Tyler Paper, OSHA spokesperson Chauntra Rideaux said “OSHA is investigating an incident at Brookshire’s warehouse and has not recommended any closures. No further details will be available until after the investigation is complete.”

The museum dates back to the 1970s, when it was established by Brookshire Grocery Co. founders Wood T. and Louise Brookshire, “who loved the outdoors and wildlife.” 

A news release stated that the museum includes “more than 450 animals from various regions of the world, and is divided into regions, taking guests on a journey of different areas of Africa and the arctic.”

“The World of Wildlife Museum was created by our founders to be an educational facility,” Brookshire Grocery Co. then-CEO Rick Rayford said in a news release in 2013, when the playground was expanded. “We continue to offer the museum as a free service to the community because it was their vision for a place where children could come to learn and have fun.”

The closure was initially announced on Facebook Monday afternoon.

“Our museum and playground are currently closed, and we are unable to take additional tour and party reservations at this time,” the page says. “We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.”