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Zoo News: Celebrate the lionesses’ birthday
Lioness sisters Sauda and Amana at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo are turning 5 years old. They will be featured at this month’s program and the public is invited to the birthday celebration.

This week the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo announces a new animal and a milestone birthday for its female lions.

Lion sisters Sauda and Amana came to the zoo as cubs and they are turning 5 years old. Zoo Curator and Supervisor Ashley Burdick said everyone is invited to come to a celebratory event on Saturday,  Feb. 12. Meet in the newly remodeled Ed Shed at 1 p.m. for refreshments provided by the Great Bend Zoological Society. Then, at 1:30 p.m., zoo staff will have a special enrichment activity for the girls. The zoo’s enrichment program provides physically and mentally stimulating toys and activities for the animals.

Sauda and Amana came here from a small zoo in Florida in 2017 when they were 6 months old. It was always a goal for them to be a companion to Luke, the male lion.

Luke celebrated his 9th birthday on Jan. 14. He received a nine-layer “cake.”

New animal

“We recently got a new Blue-tongue Skink, named Archie, for our education programs,” Burdick said. “He is currently in quarantine and then he will be on exhibit in our Reptile/Amphibian room in the Raptor Center.”

According to the Oakland Zoo (, the blue-tongue skink is a reptile found in Australia’s grassy woodlands and gardens. Males and females both weigh about 1.5 pounds and grow to about 17 inches long from snout to tail by the time they reach maturity at age 3. Their diets consist primarily of snails and plants, but they also ingest small stones to help digest food.

Skinks live up to 20 years in the wild and can live even longer in captivity.

The blue tongue skink is listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Challenges the species face are loss of habit and predators such as dogs and cats. They are not considered pests by farmers, but farmers putting out poison for snails are also harming skinks.

Fun fact: A skink will open its mouth and display its blue tongue to trick predators into thinking it is sick and therefore not a good meal.

Burdick said the zoo is working to acquire another lizard and possibly a couple of small mammals to add to the Raptor Center and education ambassador collection. 

Zoo Society

The Zoo Society has plans to help the zoo update its playground equipment.

According to the society’s winter newsletter, the Great Bend Zoological Society received $3,976.71 during the Golden Belt Community Foundation’s Giving Tuesday campaign back in November.

“In the spirit of delighting children, and with our society’s goal of making the zoo more ADA compliant, the GBZS has a new project for 2022: an updated playground structure, tire substrate ground cover and a wheelchair-accessible swing. All money received from the Giving Tuesday campaign will be put towards this project.”

To become a Zoo Society member, pick up a form at the Zoo or request one from their Great Bend Zoological Society Facebook page. Yearly membership costs $25 and all money goes directly to supporting the zoo and its animals.