Membership has its privileges, at least for those who join the Great Bend Zoological Society.
Those who join not only support work going on at the Brit Spaugh Zoo, but they can take part in members-only programs and behind-the-scenes zoo tours, said Robin Fabricius, secretary of the zoo society’s board of directors.
"We’re starting to plan more activities for members," she said. One goal is to schedule quarterly educational seminars. The first one will be a "Birds of the Rain Forest" program at 3:30 p.m. April 17 at the zoo’s Raptor Center. The speaker will be Bob Gress, director of the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita and one of Kansas’ best known bird photographers.
The free presentation will last about an hour and will include refreshments, but is only open to zoo society members. A one-year membership is $25 and is good for an entire family. Memberships are available at the zoo; the telephone number is 620-793-4226.
Members will also have a chance to join a behind-the-scenes tour of the Sedgwick County Zoo on April 23, Fabricius said. This guided tour will be limited to 10 people and will include lunch. The tour is free, but does not include transportation to Wichita. "We’re going to try to schedule additional tours at different zoos one or two times a year."
Zoo society members will also be among the first to see new animals at the Great Bend zoo when they are introduced, and they can receive updates on zoo news via e-mail. They may also attend the annual meeting.
"The zoo society is really making a proactive effort to create activities and presentations," Fabricius said. "We hope for good attendance at the annual meeting to develop long-term goals and a vision for what we want our zoo to be like in the future."
John Cross, who serves as treasurer of the zoo society, encourages the public to visit the zoo and see all of the changes that have been taking place. "Our focus is to improve what’s there," he said.
Those who join the zoo society also receive a membership card, which if often good for discounts at other zoos.