October is a busy month at Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo, where the staff is getting ready for the annual Zoo Boo and the Great Bend Zoological Society is preparing for its annual meeting. Meanwhile, zookeepers are monitoring the lions’ “howdy” and making preparations for the cooler months, Zoo Supervisor Sara Hamlin said.
Zoo Society Annual Meeting
The Great Bend Zoological Society’s annual meeting on Saturday, Oct. 13 is for members only, but it’s not too late to join. Membership forms are available at the zoo and can also be found on the zoo’s website, greatbendzoo.com. The cost is $25 a year for an individual or a family.
From 6-7 p.m., members will have exclusive access to the zoo. During this time, keepers will be providing the animals with extra enrichment and they will be available to answer questions. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. in the Raptor Center where members will hear about what’s happened in the zoo over the last year and vote on new board members while enjoying a dinner catered by Delgados and a sundae bar.
Those wishing to attend should make their reservations by Oct. 10 by calling Cindy Brooke at 620-617-3779.
All memberships will be entered in a drawing to win a gift basket featuring items from the zoo’s gift shop. Those who attend the meeting you will have a second ticket entered in the drawing.
The Saturday before Halloween brings the annual Kiwanis Halloween Parade on Main Street and Zoo Boo at Brit Spaugh Zoo. The parade starts at 11 a.m. on Oct. 27, when kids can wear their costumes and visit businesses along Main Street for candy. The zoo will be closed that day until it opens its doors at 5:30 p.m. for the Zoo Boo. This free event was attended by approximately 2,850 last year as dozens of businesses and groups set up booths and give away more candy. Zoo Boo is mostly “fun scary” and appropriate for small children; signs point out the path to the spookiest area. Anyone interested in sponsoring a booth can contact Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes at the City Office, 620-793-4111.
Temperatures may be in the 90s this week, but the Great Bend-Brit Spaugh Zoo staff are already preparing for winter. Hamlin said water bowls are being switched for heated bowls. Heat lamps are going up and heaters are being tested.
“We check our straw supplies to make sure we have what we need to keep the animals warm,” she said.
The zoo’s two alligators used to move to indoor quarters for the winter, but not this year.
“Both alligators will be spending the winter out on their pond as they have gotten too big and therefore too dangerous for us to handle them,” Hamlin said. “Their pond is well-fed so the water constantly moves and is warmer than the surface. We also add an extra pond aerator to make sure there’s enough movement in the water to keep it from freezing over.”
In August, Hamlin said the zoo’s young female lions were now big enough to share the primary lion exhibit that houses the adult male, King Louie, also known as Luke. The slow process of introducing animals is called a “howdy.” The three lions share the same building but not the same pen as they get to know each other.
Hamlin has been posting reports of the progress on the zoo’s Facebook page, along with some videos.
“Our lions are still happily coexisting in the howdy situation we have them in,” the newest post states. “As you can see from the video they are quite comfortable with each other and even eager to play with toys together. Unfortunately, Luke is still not allowing keepers to come in and spend time with them. Until that time comes they will not be allowed to be physically introduced. Thank you for your continued patience with him.”
Another video on the Facebook page shows Max the grizzly bear getting a big spoonful of ice cream on Sept. 25. Max, the senior grizzly who shares space with three others, is under veterinary care for an infection of the skin called an abscess. The zookeepers reportedly tried about a dozen different foods to get Max to take his bitter-tasting meds and the ice cream did the trick.