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Raptors check in for rehab
new slt falconIII
This prairie falcon arrived at the Kansas Raptor Center in Great Bends Brit Spaugh Zoo on Wednesday. It is recovering from a broken wrist. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Take the family on safari

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories about things families can do over the winter break from school.




Go a little wild with a home safari over the winter break.

Plan a nature scavenger hunt. Make a list of things in nature that can be found in your back yard — trees, squirrels, pinecones, birds. Divide into teams and see who can spot everything on the list first.

Come inside for some jungle games and a snack like Ants on a Log, made of celery sticks filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins.

Find coloring pages and craft projects online at There are crafts for a variety of themes. Click on the "Kids Crafts index" for an alphabetic list, then click on "Safari Animals Crafts."

Take your safari to Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo. It is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), and admission is free. (Bring money for the gift store or to feed the ducks.)

Here are two game suggestions for younger children, adapted from the website


Pull the Monkey’s Tail

Cut one foot of crepe paper for each child. Pin the top end near the waist at the back end of each child to make them have a monkey tail. Tell the children that when you say "Go," they must try to pull the tails off their fellow monkeys, without losing their own. To make the game more challenging, use a bandanna for each child and tie their hands together. Any child whose tail is pulled off is "out" and must wait on the sidelines. Last money standing wins.


Safari Game Bag

Have children color jungle animals on paper lunch sacks. Buy some plastic jungle animals, such as snakes, scorpions, lions, monkeys, alligators and frogs. Place one animal in each bag. Hand out one bag at a time and let each child try to guess what is inside without looking.


Two birds of prey — raptors — rehabilitated from recent injuries, were released back into the wild Wednesday near Larned, and an injured falcon found its was to Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo.

Area Wildlife Manager Karl Grover from the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area found the injured prairie falcon in a field in the northern part of the wildlife refuge, Zoo Director Scott Gregory said. Dr. Mike Malone, veterinarian to the zoo, put a wrap on its injured wing — actually a broken wrist.

Raptors that require long-term care find it at the Great Bend Raptor Center, one of the premier rehabilitation centers in the United States. That’s where a great horned owl recovered from a concussion and a vulture rested safely until an injured wing mended, Gregory said. The birds were housed in a flight cage at Larned State Hospital until their release on Wednesday.

All raptors are protected by federal law. In order to raise a bird it is necessary to have all of the federal permits and follow the rehabilitation procedures. If you find an injured raptor, call Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, 1-800-344-9453. Do not attempt to feed or water the injured bird.

Back at the zoo, Gregory said he has gotten a closer look at a baby bison that was born last week. "It’s a boy," he said Wednesday. "We introduced the baby and the daddy today. It’s doing fine."