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Zoo News: Fingers crossed for AZA accreditation
Two agoutis born at Great Bend's Brit Spaugh Zoo
zoo slt agouti-main
This baby agouti is growing up fast and will soon be ready for a new home. Until then, it can be seen at the Brit Spaugh Zoo in Great Bend. Admission is free and the zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week. - photo by SCOTT GREGORY/Brit Spaugh Zoo

In a little more than a month, Scott Gregory, director of Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo, will know if the application for national accreditation was successful.
Gregory and City Clerk Wayne Henneke, along with Dr. Mike Malone, veterinarian to the zoo, and Penny Quinn, president of the local zoological society, will travel to Phoenix, Ariz., on Sept. 8 for a final interview with board members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) before the board votes on the accreditation.
Three animal experts inspected the zoo in June and submitted a report to the AZA, but the final decision will rest with the board.
“We had a good inspection,” Gregory said. “The biggest (issue) is we’re not a modern zoo.” For example, the zoo still needs more animal enclosures that are naturalistic, as opposed to cages. But, he said, “They recognized that we’re evolving into a modern zoo.”
The cage for the zoo’s two bobcats had no indoor enclosure where they could retreat in extreme heat or cold. That wasn’t something that could be remedied, so the cats were sent to the Binghamton Zoo in New York. Gregory said an enclosure will be built so that some other animals can go into the vacant exhibit area.
Inspectors found a few minor problems that were fixed within a day, Gregory said. These included a broken water fountain and some cracks in cement.
There was one issue that Gregory responded to with a written appeal. The inspectors were concerned about the Critter Corner in the meeting area. People can eat in the meeting area, and the Critter Corner has terrariums that contain lizards and other small animals. The inspectors felt that having the lizards in close proximity to humans with food could open the door to salmonella, he said. Gregory disagrees. “The public can’t touch them,” he said.

Baby agoutis; volunteers
In other zoo news, the newest additions to the animal collection are two agoutis, born a few weeks ago. They can be seen in their enclosure at the zoo, and will be sent to another zoo once they are weaned. An agouti, which looks kind of like a large guinea pig, is a burrowing rodent from the South American rain forest.
Gregory also reported that on Wednesday, 35 volunteers from the Zoo Teens program at the the Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure, Salina, along with their adult supervisors, spent a day at Brit Spaugh Zoo helping with projects.