About half of the visitors to Great Bend’s Brit-Spaugh Zoo really like looking at snakes, Director Scott Gregory said.
The other half – not so much.
Renovations going on at the zoo should make both groups happy. New snake enclosures will be installed in the Reptile House, as the zoo adds more snakes to its collection. “The public is 50-50 on snakes,” Gregory said. “If you don’t want to see them, you don’t have to.”
For those who do like reptiles, a bearded dragon lizard is one of the newer animals. And once the temperature stays around 50 degrees or above, the alligators will be brought back and placed in a pond.
Another popular indoor spot at the zoo is the Aquarium House, currently closed for renovation. Already people can see the brighter appearance on the outside as a new door, windows and trim go up. Inside, there will be new fans and paint, and a brighter overall appearance. “It’s going to look really neat in here,” Gregory said. “It will be completely renovated from head to toe.”
It may not be called the Aquarium House after the work is done this summer. Some of the small animals used for education programs will be housed in the building. That means more people will have an opportunity to see critters such as the new chinchilla and short-tailed opossum that were recently unveiled.
Gregory said the zoo will keep its best aquariums, however. Currently the collection of saltwater fish includes a chocolate-chip starfish and some blue-green chromis. There are also clownfish and a blue tang – just like Nemo and Dory from the Pixar animated movie, “Finding Nemo.” There will also be a freshwater tank after the renovation.
In the near future, Spidey, the zoo’s spider monkey, will be moved to a new enclosure – last occupied by a panther that was on loan to the zoo. That will make a better exhibit as well as a more enjoyable environment for the animal, Gregory said.
Finally, the zoo has acquired a female sloth with plans to breed her with the male already in the collection. The sloth only recently arrived and is in isolation for now. “She came from the wild of Guyana,” Gregory said. “We got her from a wildlife supplier in Florida.” Coming from the wild, the sloth has never been bred in captivity and so has pure genes for future breeding efforts.
The male, which came to the zoo in 2009, is named WAM, which stands for Wait A Minute. After all, the sloth is the world’s slowest mammal. His future mate is named HU, or Hurry Up!