Two male cougar cubs that arrived at Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo this spring are waiting to be named — but they won’t have to wait much longer.
During the Barton Community College Foundation’s Big Benefit Auction on Saturday, Aug. 23, one auction item will be “naming rights” for both cats.
“The high bidder gets to name the pair,” said Coleen Cape, event organizer. There will also be a plaque for their exhibit.
Cape said this first-ever auction item of naming an animal is a “win-win-win,” with the zoo, BCC students and the college benefitting. The cougar is BCC’s mascot, and back in the late 1990s Barton employees created a fund to pay for food for the zoo’s old cougar, Bart. After Bart passed away, the Barton Foundation held the funds. When foundation board members were notified that there would be new cougars coming to the zoo this year, they decided to use the remaining money to pay for the animals’ transport.
In April, Zoo Director Scott Gregory announced he would be traveling to Kansas City International Airport to pick up a cougar cub, and another would come the following week. The animals, both males, were rescued by the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife when they were just a month or two old. One came from California, and the other, who is 90 percent blind, came from Oregon.
Originally it was reported that the cougars were destined to be sold on the black market pet trade until they were confiscated by Fish & Wildlife. Gregory said this week that he wasn’t certain why the federal agency rescued the animals, but they are a welcome addition to the zoo.
About a month ago, both were moved to an enclosure next to the black bear exhibit that can be seen by the public. One of the cougars is quite shy and difficult to see, but the blind cougar rarely hides from his adoring public.
Barton Foundation’s 36th Annual Big Benefit Auction is set for Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Knights of Columbus, 723 Main, Great Bend. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the live auction starts at 8 p.m. Tickets for the auction, which is themed “Barton Dynasty – Hunting for Bucks,” can be purchased for $35 each or $280 per table by calling the Foundation office, 620-786-1136, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All the proceeds go toward scholarships and program enhancements at the college. Tickets will be available until Friday, Aug. 15.
A video taken at the zoo has reportedly gone viral. “Beware the Trumpeter Swan Selfie” by Steven Takata was uploaded on YouTube two weeks ago and has over 303,000 views. Others have reported seeing it on AOL.com video. The description explains, “My brother-in-law got a little too close for his selfie with the trumpeter swans at the Great Bend Zoo in Kansas. He was trying to get the picture to send to his friend that got attacked by one years earlier to show him they weren’t that bad. It didn’t turn out exactly as he planned.”
As the man turns his back on the swan and raises his cell phone to take the selfie, she bites his arm. The victim later displays a large welt.
Brit Spaugh Zoo Director Scott Gregory said he doesn’t care for selfies, and notes that the bird in question territorial because she is sitting on some non-fertile eggs. An ABC news affiliate in Chicago commented, “His story is something to keep in mind next time you try to get up close and personal for your zoo selfies."