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Zoo news: Bear exhibit on schedule
Spring completion date anticipated
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A large concrete box going into the expanded grizzly bear exhibit will become a den for the bears. It will be covered with large boulders, but there will be spaces that park guests can look through for a glimpse of the bears when they nap inside the shelter. The scissor lift seen on the right is being used for hanging fencing. - photo by photos by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Work on the expansion of the grizzly bear area at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo continues. Curator and Zoo Supervisor Sara Hamlin said the construction is on schedule.
“All of the fence posts are in and the training wall and the bear den have been installed. They are currently working on adding the welded cagework panels to the fence posts.”
Scott Keeler, director of public lands, said the exhibit should be completed in May if they stay on schedule. Meanwhile, the four grizzly bears are not on public display. Their den is at the center of the area being expanded.
Currently, the bears are in torpor, the winter state of reduced body temperature and physical inactivity. Hibernation is an extended form of torpor when animals “sleep” through the winter to escape the cold and because food is scarce. However, grizzly bears do not actually hibernate.
Expansion of the bear exhibit and a new exhibit that will bring bison back to the zoo were both planned thanks to donations from the Dorothy Morrison Foundation. At this time last year, city officials met with architects and engineers and learned the cost for the completion of the grizzly bear expansion was projected to be $877,290 — higher than the $700,000 set aside for the project. Katherine Opie from the Dorothy Morrison Foundation indicated the foundation would provide the necessary funds.
With the added cost of the first project, which will triple the size of the bear exhibit, Keeler said the bison exhibit will come later.