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Zoo News: Cell phone tours coming to Brit Spaugh Zoo
Help wanted for AZA inspection preparation
zoo slt band
Members of the Barton Community College band club, the National Association for Musical Education, present a check to Brit Spaugh Zoo Director Scott Gregory, Nov. 21 at the zoo. A portion of proceeds from the clubs haunted house was designated for the zoo. Pictured, from left: Megan Schlochtermeier, Jake Towery, Joann Stacey, Zoo Director Scott Gregory, Amber Jones, Kira Kreutzer, BCC NAfME sponsor Steve Lueth and Rose Radenberg.

Thanks to three recent gifts, Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo will soon be able to offer guided tours – over a cell phone.

Zoo Director Scott Gregory said a one-year contract has been signed with OnCell, a New York-based company that can provide interactive audio cells phone tours.

"With this tour, guests will be able to dial a toll-free number and receive information about the animals at each exhibit," Gregory said. It will work over any cell phone, but people with smartphones will also be able to scan bar codes for additional material, such as videos and animal sounds. The project will get under way some time in January 2012, but it may take a few months to be operational.

The zoo will sign a yearly contract with OnCell, and the first year will be funded with a grant from the CPI Barton County Endowment and monetary donations from Barton Community College Band Club and the Zoological Society. "On behalf of the zoo, we would like to thank CPI, BCC Band Club and the Zoological Society for their generosity and support," Gregory said.

CPI Qualified Plan Consultants has created the CPI Barton County Endowment to improve the quality of life in the Barton County area. The Band Club donated $550 of its proceeds from the haunted house it operated last October.

Help needed for

AZA inspection

As the zoo prepares for a rigorous accreditation inspection from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Gregory is seeking the public’s help with a pre-inspection clean-up. Anyone who is available to do some manual labor, such as raking leaves, can call the zoo, 793-4226, or e-mail scott@greatbendzoo.com.

Actually, the AZA inspection is a few months away, but a mock inspection will take place on Dec. 9, as a rehearsal for the real deal.

The mock inspection will be done by the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City and Sunset Zoo in Manhattan. In the next month, Great Bend will be assigned an official AZA mentor.

"This will be an institution that has no affiliation with us right now, so they will look at the zoo with a fresh set of eyes," Gregory said.

Two months ago, the zoo submitted a written application for inspection by its sister zoos in Wichita, Garden City and Manhattan, and the goal is to submit the official AZA application in March of 2012. "If all goes well, we hope to be accredited in September at the annual AZA Conference in Phoenix, Ariz."