After 13.5 inches of snow fell on Great Bend in late December, the temperatures plunged and so did attendance at the Brit Spaugh Zoo.
Director Scott Gregory said the zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in all weather, but some animals prefer to stay indoors when the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other animals thrive on the cold. The arctic fox couple, Vixie and Tod, are well adapted to the cold.
Gregory said the foxes were acquired with the plan to breed them, and it’s possible there will be baby foxes in the spring. Vixie has been “twerking,” which is a sign of possible mating activity.
In extreme heat or cold, animals at the zoo have access to an indoor shelter with more moderate temperatures and some will choose to stay in. “It’s really up to the animals,” Gregory said.
However, the humans who tend to the animals don’t have a choice.
The Raptor Center at the zoo is closed during the week, but people can still enter the zoo through the north gate. Gregory said so far they haven’t had any complaints. Someone must be paid to sit at the front desk any time the Raptor Center is open, and since attendance drops in the winter that isn’t a good use of funds. Admission to the zoo is free.
The Raptor Center is still open on weekends, and parties can be scheduled in the facility during regular zoo hours by calling 620-793-4226.
Gregory traveled to New Mexico last week, taking the zoo’s female serval cat with him. He was meeting someone from Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary in Prescott, Ariz., which will be the African cat’s new home. In the coming weeks, Gregory said, he hopes to arrange for a younger female serval to come to the Brit Spaugh Zoo. A 6-month-old male serval was acquired in November, and the plan is to have a breeding pair.
Acquiring new animals is one of the advantages of being affiliated with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Although Brit Spaugh Zoo has not yet reached its goal of AZA accreditation, Gregory said several animals exchanges at the zoo have been made with assistance from the association.