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Zoo news: Master Gardeners hard at work
2 new signs
Employees from Marks Sign added two new signs Monday at the Butterfly House one above the entrance and a large butterfly next to the sidewalk. Children can stand between the butterfly wings for photo ops. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Multiple groups of volunteers with the Master Gardener designation have been at work on the grounds of the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo in recent weeks.
“We love our Master Gardeners here,” said Sara Hamlin, zoo supervisor and curator. They have researched the plants that attract and nourish butterflies for the zoo’s Butterfly House and they maintain flowerpots and foliage on the grounds. Master Gardeners also work in the community orchard that was planted at the zoo, and they have started to do some work pruning some older nut trees in the field.
The Master Gardener Program is an educational volunteer training program sponsored by K-State Research and Extension. Through this program, individuals are trained and certified in horticulture and related areas. In turn, they volunteer their expertise and services to help others through horticulture projects that benefit the community.
Applications for Master Gardener Training where accepted in 2017 and weekly training was conducted from Jan. 31 through March 21.

Plastic Free July/Zookeeper Appreciation
Plastic Free July started on the 1st. There is a post about plastic every day of the month on the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo Facebook page. For example, a recent post suggests replacing dryer sheets with wool dryer balls as an environmentally friendly alternative.
This is also the month of National Zookeeper Appreciation Week, July 15-21. Brit Spaugh Zoo will have special keeper talks scheduled that week so that the public can meet the keepers.

Other news
The zoo has three new Muscovy ducks that now live on the Trumpeter Swan pond and two Peafowl that free roam the zoo.
Shortly after the expanded Grizzly Bear exhibit opened in June, the zoo had an after-hour Girl Scout program called “Bedtime with the Bears.” Participants could watch what the animals do when the lights go down and nobody is round.
“It was a hit,” Hamlin said. “All the girls had a great time despite the weather putting a damper on the outside activities.”
Finally, an update on the cygnets, or young Mute Swans, at the Veterans Memorial Park lake. Four cygnets hatched in May but went missing in June. The only one accounted for was a little paddler that was injured by a dog and suffered a broken leg. It was expected to survive, although it might walk with a limp, but on June 6 that cygnet was found dead in the lake, floating next to its mother.
Hamlin said the body was sent to the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for testing and the cause of death was aspergillosis, a fungal infection. This might occur from eating moldy food, but the aspergillus fungus is not uncommon and can also be found in soil and nesting material. Hamlin said blue-green algae on the lake would not have been a contributor to the death. Readers may recall that the zoo’s Mute Swans were moved to the lake to help control the goose population there in an attempt to reduce the blue-green algae growth.

Hamlin to study in Baja

OXFORD, Ohio — Brit Spaugh Zoo Supervisor and Curator Sara Hamlin, a new master’s student in the Global Field Program (GFP) from Miami University’s Project Dragonfly, will travel to Baja this month. Hamlin will study desert and marine landscapes through ecological and social field methods.