The Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo started the month by officially opening the exhibit of amphibians, reptiles and other small animals located in the Raptor Center on Monday. Now, even on very cold days, there are dozens of animals to see in the warmth of the zoo’s main building.
This area now houses 26 animal exhibits, including animals that were previously located in the Education Building, sometimes referred to as the “Ed Shed.” More about that later.
There are chinchillas, a three-banded armadillo, and a host of reptiles and amphibians, not to mention aquariums.
An axolotl, a relative of the tiger salamander, is one of the newest additions to the collection, said Zoo Supervisor and Curator Ashley Burdick. In the wild, this species is only found in two lakes in Mexico and they are critically endangered due to water pollution, capture for the pet trade and because their meat is considered a delicacy.
Some of the animals in the exhibit are really good at hiding, so it takes some patience to get a good look at them. The sand boa burrows into the sand and some of the frogs are experts at camouflage.
Remodeling the Ed Shed
Great Bend Zoological Society President Alicia Boor said remodeling of the Education Building could start as early as April. When it is finished, people will be able to use it for birthday parties and meetings, and the zoo will use it to present educational programs.
If you haven’t already guessed, that was the original purpose of the building when it was named the “Education Building.” However, after the Raptor Center was built, a section of the new building was used for meetings and the Ed Shed came to house aquariums and small animals. Burdick said this new arrangement will offer improved temperature control and security for the indoor animal exhibits and a more private setting for parties, meetings and educational programs.
During the extreme cold in late February, the zoo’s electricity was off for an hour for the rolling blackouts, which caused one of the pond pipes to freeze, so it had to be replaced. The cold weather also affected a waterline that runs through Brit Spaugh Park, over by the baseball field, and that caused a large leak. To fix the leak they had to turn off the water to the Raptor Center and half of the zoo.
Zookeepers were kept busy hauling water and straw bales, as well as providing the usual enrichment and care for the animals.