Three days of summer remain.
Many consider Labor Day the unofficial end of summer, and on Monday the Great Bend Zoo and Raptor Center will resume its regular hours of 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. But summer hours will still be in effect this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when the zoo will be open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. (Today’s hours, by any schedule, are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free.)
Zoo Director Scott Gregory said the newest addition to the zoo is a 2 1/2-foot-long rhino iguana. "He came from the Topeka Zoo."
Recent activity at the zoo has included the annual physical for Maggie, a 33-year-old grizzly bear. The zoo’s veterinarian, Dr. Mike Malone, pronounced the bear in good health. He trimmed her claws, pulled a bad tooth and cleaned her other teeth.
The zoo is in the process of improving security with a dozen new cameras. One will be on a pole some 60 feet high, and the public will eventually be able to watch views from that camera from inside the Raptor Center, the building where people enter the zoo.
Look for some changes in the building that houses the zoo’s aquariums, too, Gregory said. Staff have added a backup generator and put new tops and lids on the tanks to keep people from putting their hands in the piranhas or tampering with the fish in general. Soon staff will also be covering up an unsightly crack in the floor that runs the length of the building.
The fence around the tigers, already about 15 feet high, is going to have an additional overhang that’s about 4 feet long, Gregory said. This was planned even before a 500-pound Bengal tiger jumped a fence of similar height last Saturday at an animal attraction in Miami, Fla. The Great Bend Zoo has contacted fencing companies and is taking bids on the chain-link overhang for the tiger exhibit, and for an expansion of chain link fence so it can make the black bear exhibit larger. It’s also taking bids for a 6- to 7-foot wood privacy fence that could be used to create a quarantine area for larger animals.
New employees at the zoo are Stacie Hayes, a zookeeper, and Alan Trevino, who has joined the maintenance crew.