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Zoo News: Dr. Mike Malone celebrates 40 years
Bad week for leopards
Dr. Mike Malone has been the veterinarian at the Great Bend-Brit Spaugh Zoo for 40 years now. A reception was held for him Tuesday at the zoo. - photo by Susan Thacker

Local veterinarian Mike Malone has served as the Great Bend Brit-Spaugh Zoo vet for 40 years now. The zoo held a reception in his honor Tuesday evening.

The party had some people wondering if Malone plans to retire. His answer is “no.”

“I enjoy it and I’m going to keep on doing it,” Malone said. “It’s never boring.”

Bad week for leopards

The last week of May was a sad one at the zoo. On May 22, staff announced the death of Banera, an African leopard, just two days short of her 19th birthday.

“Banera was humanely euthanized today after animal care staff and veterinarians had determined that her quality of life had deteriorated to a point that we could no longer keep her comfortable,” Zoo Supervisor Sara Hamlin announced.

“The zoo’s other leopard, Toby, will remain on exhibit to be an ambassador for his species.”

Hamlin also explained that most leopards have tawny-colored fur with black rosettes, like Toby, but some are completely black, like Banera, which is called melanistic coloration. “But this doesn’t make them a black panther, there is no such animal. ‘Panther’ is just an old term that comes from the genus name, Panthera, and is sometimes used to describe leopards, jaguars and cougars.”

Toby’s tail

On May 30, the zoo had some sad news about Toby’s tail.

“We are sad to report that Toby leopard is a little shorter than he used to be, in the tail that is,” staff posted on Facebook. “For years Toby has appeared to have nerve damage in his tail which caused him to not feel when he was dragging it through mud and water or banging on the rocks in the exhibit. Keepers have always monitored it and it never appeared to affect his overall health. 

“Several months ago Toby dislocated his tail which appeared to cause more nerve damage. At that time he was sedated for radiographs and to allow vets to take a closer look and everything appeared to be healing. 

Unfortunately, the internal injuries were worse than we thought and he began to drag his tail to the point of causing a deep wound in the flesh. After many attempts to find ways to help the wound heal the decision was made to remove the damaged section of tail so that Toby’s health wouldn’t be at risk.”

Toby was back on exhibit shortly after that but then he chewed on his tail overnight, causing further damage. After an emergency sedation, he had another 4 inches of tail removed. The north section of the zoo will be closed for a while to give Today time to recover in peace.


Celebrate Mrs. B’s Birthday

The zoo’s oldest animal is Mrs. B, an American Bald Eagle, who will turn 40 years old next month. The zoo will hold a birthday celebration for her from 9 a.m. to noon on the Fourth of July.

Mrs. B was brought to the zoo as a rehab bird and stayed as a resident after it was determined that she was non-releasable due to injuries to her feet.