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Zoo News: New perimeter fence going up at Brit Spaugh Zoo
zoo slt jack dempsey fish
The Jack Dempsey fish is named after the famous boxer from the 1920s. They grow 6-10 inches long, so one fish requires at least a 55-gallon tank. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

The Aquarium House

The Aquarium House at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo is a cool place to escape from the heat. The collection of freshwater and saltwater fish requires a controlled environment.

The zoo contracts with Aquarium Pros, a private company that maintains the fish. Dan Murray of Aquarium Pros said the newest addition to the collection is a zebra moray eel.

Murray and crew recently did a major cleanup at the Aquarium House, which was formerly the zoo’s Education Building. They’ve installed new flooring and done some painting, and replaced a fish tank.









The Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo is being staffed 24 hours a day this week while the city replaces the perimeter fence along Main Street with a "newer, nicer, 8-foot chain link perimeter fence," Zoo Director Scott Gregory said.

The work began Tuesday and should be done by Friday. Meanwhile, the Raptor Center is closed due to the staff’s stretched hours.

The Raptor Center is the main building, and on most days serves as the public’s entrance to the zoo. Even though the building is closed, people can still enter the zoo through its north gate during regular zoo hours of 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

Great Bend City Clerk Wayne Henneke said Eldridge Fencing is putting up the new fence, having submitted the low bid. "The old fence was in bad shape," Henneke said. It was also two feet shorter than the standard set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The last half of August was a busy time for the Great Bend zoo; a temporary guest animal arrived and staff worked on the application for AZA accreditation.

The guest animal is an 11-year-old cougar named Phoenix that was rescued from the exotic pet trade years ago. It could spend up to a year here before it is released to an exotic animal lodge going up in Texas. Phoenix is in quarantine for the next few weeks, but will eventually be placed in the main collection for the public to see. The Zoological Society members will get the first opportunities to view him.

A long-term goal of the Brit Spaugh Zoo is to achieve AZA accreditation. Last week the directors from the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City and Sunset Zoo in Manhattan met with Great Bend staff to discuss the written AZA application. "The content was strong," Gregory said, although some of the spelling and grammar "needed to be reworked." However, AZA is introducing a new version of its application this month, and the new application has a few added questions.

The visiting zoo directors planned to do a "walk around" similar to the actual AZA inspection, but didn’t get the chance because work on the application took the entire day, Gregory said. "There are about 25 to 30 pages of questions. We were informed they will return late this year/early 2012 for a hard walk around inspection."

If all goes well, a "tentative" date for submitting the application would be summer 2012.