The newest animal at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo is Dexter, a Green Tree Python. The species is found in New Guinea, some islands of Indonesia and the Cape York Peninsula in Australia.
Zoo Curator and Supervisor Ashley Burdick said Dexter is 7 years old and comes from the Amarillo Zoo in Texas.
“When we designed the new exhibit in the Raptor Center we left a space open for this species as they exhibit some neat behaviors,” Burdick said. “The Green Tree Python and the Emerald Tree Boa have a unique way of sitting on their branches where they loop themselves over in a saddle position and wait for food to come near them. In the wild, they would eat small rodents and reptiles, like geckos and skinks. When they hatch, they are either a yellow or reddish/maroon color and they turn the green color as they mature.”
The Great Bend zoo staff had to wait longer than expected for the python’s arrival, because of the pandemic. Likewise, the new exhibit in the Raptor Center has been much anticipated. Burdick said they hope to open the exhibit the first week of March, perhaps even on March 1.
In the works
“We are also working to move the Turkey Vultures to the exhibit on the other side of lions and we are working to get a fun, new critter for the exhibit across from Pizza Hut!” Burdick said.
Since the death of Zito, a male Lar Gibbon, on Nov. 23, the zookeepers have been giving extra attention to the female, Rerun. Burdick reports that Rerun is doing well.
“She likes to interact with her enrichment activities and she enjoys watching Netflix with her keepers. We are working with the SSP (species survival plan) to try to find her a suitable companion, but due to her condition that is not an easy task. She suffered from a stroke before she arrived here, so she is a little slower and sometimes uncoordinated when she is climbing around. She is unable to move as quickly and isn’t as agile as a normal gibbon,” Burdick explained.
The SSP program is a cooperatively managed effort to oversee the population management of select species.
On Tuesday, Feb. 2, the zoo staff posted a video on Facebook of a breakthrough in introducing the male Lion, King Louie (“Luke”), to the females Amana and Sauda. Until they can calmly share the same space, the girls and Luke must take turns being in the outdoor portion of the exhibit.
Keepers have been working with the lions to form a pride since 2018, when the females were moved to the main lion house. They are separated from Luke by a barrier but can see each other and have close access to each other.
The Facebook post reads: “So for a little while now we had been a bit stalled out during lion intros, nothing was really happening, but today we had a breakthrough!! The girls were able to stand their ground and Luke didn’t get overly aggressive and he backed off when he needed to. They repeated this behavior several times during the session. You’ll have to excuse our excitement and loud praise, we are pretty excited and proud of everyone!!!”