By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Zoo News: Give a bear (or lion) a Christmas gift
zoo_slt gift tree.jpg
A wild "giving tree" can be found inside the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo. Anyone who wants to can pick a paper ornament that lists an enrichment item that can be purchased for zoo animals.

The Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo has a Christmas wish list for toys and other items that would enrich animals’ lives this winter. The public is invited to pick a paper “ornament” from the Christmas tree inside the Raptor Center and make a donation. Each tag lists an item, with a variety of prices.

Big animals such as bears and lions enjoy extreme dog toys and heavy-duty chew rings, not to mention treat balls, bubble juice and a bubble machine. There’s even some training material for zookeepers on the list, with a request for the book “Don’t Shoot the Dog!”, a manual on teaching and training.

To watch an example of zookeepers engaging animals in enrichment, check out the video posted Dec. 1 on the Great Bend-Brit Spaugh Zoo Facebook page. The video of arctic foxes from the North Carolina Zoo features animals that were born at the Great Bend zoo. Here in Great Bend, Todd and Vixie are in their white winter coats and easy to see even on cold days.

Some animals don’t enjoy the cold. The grizzly bears sleep a lot these days and only come out to play on warm days, zookeeper Ashley Burdick said. The alligators are on their pond, but hard to see as they burrow into the mud. The Great Bend Zoological Society is discussing ways to fund a winter alligator house, president Karen Neuforth said.

But visitors can find several animals on cold days, and some indoor exhibits as well.

Burdick notes that there are a few species of geese visiting the zoo at this time of year and a few herons flew through recently.

Lar Gibbon news

On Wednesday, Zito the lar gibbon was brought to the Raptor Center for his annual physical, conducted by Dr. Mike Malone, DVM, and Dr. Jackie Corbett, DVM.

On Nov. 28, Rerun, the female lar gibbon, had her physical. Sara Hamlin, the zoo supervisor, said some veterinarians from the Rolling Hills Zoo in Salina assisted in the checkup because the staff had concerns about Rerun’s recent stool samples.

Malone said Rerun’s thorough checkup included ultrasound and X-rays. “We looked at it pretty extensively and could not detect anything,” he said. They don’t believe she has any major problems.

However, Rerun also has a broken canine tooth that Hamlin believes can be saved. Dr. Doug Winter of Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital of Wichita, whose dental speciality is zoo animals and exotic animals, will come to the zoo in January.

Dr. Winter once performed a root canal on Mumbasa, also known as “Boss,” the zoo’s lion, in 2011. Rerun is also scheduled for a root canal, Malone said.

Speaking of lions, King Louie, also known as Luke, is head of the Great Bend pride these days but he was outside by himself on Wednesday. Zookeepers continue to keep the younger females, Amana and Sauda, nearby but separated by a barrier in the lion house. During this “howdy” phase, the lions are getting acquainted. However, they won’t be physically introduced and share the same space until zookeepers are sure it is safe.