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Donation paves way for bear exhibit expansion
new Deh more city bears pic web
A gift from the Dorothy Morrison Foundation will allow the city to complete the Brit Spaugh Zoo grizzly bear exhibit expansion this winter. - photo by Tribune file photo

 Another donation from the Dorothy Morrison Foundation will allow the city to let sleeping bears lie.

Great Bend City Attorney Bob Suelter told the City Council Monday night that the foundation will contribute enough money so the Brit Spaugh Zoo grizzly bear exhibit can be expanded. This will allow the work to be done this winter while the bears are hibernating soundly.

“I want to give my thanks and the city’s thanks to Katherine Opie and the Dorothy Morrison Foundation,” he said. 

At the Feb. 20 meeting, the council entered into a contract with Eby Construction of Wichita to manage the construction of the exhibit expansion and the reintroduction of bison into the zoo. 

This past Friday, city officials met with the representatives of Eby and Professional Engineering Consultants, the city’s on-call architectural firm. Also present was Opie, representing the Dorothy Morrison Foundation. 

The cost for the completion of the grizzly bear expansion is projected to be $877,290 and the city had under $700,000 set aside for the project. However, after reviewing the proposal, Opie indicated the foundation would provide funds necessary to fund the grizzly bear expansion in full. 

Suelter said it is important to try to complete this project while the bears are in hibernation, as it is easier to work without curious bears hanging around. This project will move forward under the prior contract since it is now fully funded. 

Except for authorized change orders, the city costs are limited to the $877,290. If the costs come in below that cost the city will receive the savings. 

There will be a contract on the next agenda with the architect to oversee the construction. 

The grizzly bear exhibit will see an expanded fenced area increasing the size by at least three times, a shelter house, a pond and a stream with running water. The bears will also get shade structures, a climbing wall and other features. 

The funding reported Monday night covers just the bear exhibit, Suelter said. He will report on the bison project in the near future.

As for the bison area, the first step will be to restore the exhibit space with new fencing. There will also be a shelter/hay shed, holding chute and stock tank.

Sidewalks, landscaping and signs will be included in both exhibits.

The Morrison Foundation has kicked in a considerable amount of money towards this project over the past couple years, Suelter said.