Note: A version of this story that appeared inthe March 5 Great Bend Tribune had the wrong name for the acting director of the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo. Nicole Benz is the zoo curator and acting director.
A photographer from National Geographic spent time at the Great Bend Brit-Spaugh Zoo recently, photographing the arctic foxes and other animals for a future article on climate change.
Zoo employee Grady Bolding said other animals photographed included the crayfish in the aquarium and the binturong. It will be a couple of years before the story runs.
Acting Zoo Director Nicole Benz said they have a new animal, a prehensile-tailed skink. A skink is a lizard, and a prehensile tail is one that can grab or hold on to things. So, the prehensile-tailed skink is also known as the monkey-tailed skink, according to PetSuppliesPlus.com. The largest of all known skinks, they come from the tropical forest regions of the Solomon Islands, northeast of Australia. They live in trees and have a lifespan of about 15 years.
The website notes: “In recent years, prehensile-tailed skinks have been listed under CITES appendix II, indicating that the species may become threatened – due to extensive logging in their native habitat. Because of this, it is important to be sure that your lizard was captive bred in the United States and NOT taken from the wild.” CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.
Our skink, like any new animal at the zoo, will spend a few weeks in quarantine before moving to the Ed Shed for public viewing.
Even though many animals prefer to stay inside on cold days, there are several animals to be seen year-round, in the Ed Shed and the Raptor Center, which is the entrance to the zoo and also houses a gift shop and educational exhibits. The North American animals are out, but animals from other continents are more sensitive to temperature changes, Benz said.
The zoo staff are already thinking about warmer weather, and planning some educational programs for the summer.
The zoo is in need of a working refrigerator if anyone has one to donate. If donated through the Great Bend Zoological Society, it is a tax write-off.
Benz said there are several refrigerators at the zoo but the one used to keep medicine cold (which was also donated) has gone out. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates zoos, requires that meds and food be kept in separate refrigerators, so for now the vets are keeping the items at their own clinic, instead of at the zoo where they would be on-hand.