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Butterfly garden: Brit Spaugh adds conservation features
new zoo slt zimmerman conservation garden
Zookeeper John Zimmerman at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo lays drip-line irrigation as he works on the new conservation garden. Grant money provided some of the funding for this project. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Animals to visit Senior Center


The public can learn more about the new animals at the zoo during a program at 1 p.m. Friday at the Great Bend Senior Center, 2005 Kansas Ave. Carlie Brown, educator at the zoo, will bring some nocturnal animals and talk about what is new at the zoo.

This free educational session is sponsored by the Great Bend Recreation Commission and the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo staff.


The spring migration of Monarch butterflies is under way, and soon their colorful wings will be a common sight at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo. A new conservation garden is expected to attract native butterflies and hummingbirds, as well as people, Zookeeper John Zimmerman said.

Last week, Zimmerman was installing 6,000 feet of drip-line irrigation west of the butterfly aviary, located near the entrance to the North American section of the zoo. But landscaping extends well beyond that area, to the east and the south. In fact, it isn’t just about butterflies. Zoo Director Scott Gregory said the zoo used a $2,500 grant from the Golden Belt Community Foundation and a $1,000 grant from Walmart to pay for the conservation garden. "I have also used money from my budget to fund the garden," Gregory said.

Some of the material is locally generated. The City of Great Bend supplies mulch and recently delivered six dump truck loads of organic matter from the compost site. Previously flat land is being shaped into mounds to control water runoff. In the future there will also be another small water feature, and that will provide another place for butterflies and birds to come and drink.

"We’ve got several hundred plants coming in," Zimmerman said. Different species attract certain species of butterflies.

Eventually, about 100 different species will be planted, including regalia, columbine, astilbe (false spirea) and English daisies.

Last summer, zoo staff released 200 butterflies into the aviary, and hatched about six dozen more from cocoons. But native species will come here on their own. Great Bend is on the Great Monarch Migration Route, which extends from Canada to Mexico.

Hoards of butterflies should arrive in a week or two, Zimmerman said. A few of the most common species have already appeared. "We’ve had painted ladies, black swallowtails and a couple of Monarchs," he said. The first moths to appear were dusty millers. "It’s still early in the season, but they’re starting to make their presence known."

The zoo will also have a place where a volunteer can sit and document the species of butterflies that stop at the zoo.