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Zoo news: New animals serve as zoo ambassadors
zoo slt hissing cockroaches
Hissing cockroaches are new "education animals" at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune


The newest animals at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo include hissing cockroaches and a Kenyan sand boa.

These can’t be found among the regular exhibits, but are used as education animals that can be taken to remote programs.

Zoo Curator Marge Bowen said the 6-inch long Kenyan sand boa, found in sandy areas of east Africa, may grow to be 1 or 2 feet long. Several children got to hold the orange and brown snake at the zoo’s recent Earth Day event. Put it in a pile of sand, and the snake will burrow underground.

Although it is a constructor, sources describe the sand boa as docile and easy going. Those with the brightest oranges are sought out by pet stores.

Hissing cockroaches, found in the forests of Madagascar, grow to be 2 to 3 inches long, and about an inch wide. If threatened they will make a loud hissing sound as part of their natural defense. The sound can be up to 90 decibels, and sounds like a hissing cat.

According to the website, hissing roaches differ from most cockroaches because they do not possess wings and cannot fly. Since they are not aggressive and do not bite, some people own them as exotic pets.

"A really cool feature to point out; the Madagascar hissing cockroach can climb straight up a completely flat surface, such as glass!"