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Zoo news: Brit Spaugh Zoo gearing up for AZA application
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Gilda, a green cheek Amazon parrot, is held by Dr. Jackie Corbett during a physical examination of the bird on Wednesday at the zoo. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune




The water level of the ponds in Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo is down this month, and not by accident. Zoo Director Scott Gregory said the ponds are being dredged and cleaned, with new side walls built to stop erosion.

Last week Gregory put out the call for volunteers to help with "an extremely dirty, smell, yucky job." Several members of the Zoological Society joined city employees who seined the ponds. A seine net was used to corral and remove about 80 fish weighing over 300 pounds. The fish were relocated to Stone Lake by Kansas Wildlife and Parks.

Anyone who is interested in helping with zoo projects is invited to fill out a volunteer form, which can be found on the Internet at

This month Gregory plans to submit the zoo’s official application to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for AZA accreditation. In preparing for the inspection that will follow, city employees have been fixing cracks in concrete and making other improvements. These include putting up a new fence at the lion exhibit that is stronger and thicker than the old one, and placing new locking mechanisms on some enclosures.

Parrot physicals

Veterinarians Mike Malone and Jackie Corbett are at the zoo most Wednesdays, conducting physical examinations on the animals. This week the zoo’s three Amazon parrots were in the exam room. The parrots’ natural habitat is the lowlands of northeast Mexico, said Marge Bowen, zoo curator. At the zoo they are fed a diet of fruit, veggies, nuts and parrot pellets. Their average life expectancy is 50 years.

The zoo has two green cheek Amazon parrots and one orange wing Amazon. Their names are Gilda, Gene and Papa.

Unlike the two Eclectus parrots (a breed found in New Guinea) that the zoo acquired in January, the Amazons have been residents of the Brit Spaugh Zoo for several years. When humans walk by them, they have been known to say, "hi" or give a wolf whistle. Bowen said the zoo is working on a new exhibit for them to enjoy in the warm weather.