Shade sails were recently installed by the bison exhibit at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo to make a more comfortable seating area to view the animals, Zoo Supervisor and Curator Ashley Burdick said.
The bison exhibit opened in June of 2020, when the zoo introduced Breeze and Gus, who arrived from the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita.
The zoo had a bison exhibit in the past but it closed in 2010 for safety reasons. Breeze and Gus are the offspring of Boomer, who was born at the Great Bend Zoo in 2009 and sent to Wichita. Planning for a new bison exhibit began in 2016 when the zoo received a grant from the Dorothy M. Morrison Foundation.
Work is continuing at the “Ed Shed,” where new flooring is going in, Burdick said. She hopes that building will be ready this fall. When it is finished, the building will be available for educational programs and can also be rented by the public.
Workers have also leveled the area where an alligator house will be installed. Work on the structure should begin in the next month or so. In the past, the zoo’s two alligators, Alvin and Allister, were moved indoors every winter. But in December of 2017, Alvin could not be caught and wintered outdoors. Continually running water on the pond prevented it from freezing. Since then, the alligators have stayed outdoors year-round, burrowing into the mud to stay warm in colder weather, but fundraising for a winter house next to the pond continued.
Summer Camp at the zoo will be held July 17-22. It is for ages 6-10 years old and runs from 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Children will explore the lives, adaptations, habitats and conservation of animals around the world. Zoo staff and Great Bend Recreation Commission instructor Trisha Ryff will lead them in hands-on activities, lessons, craft projects and walks through the zoo.
Registration is $20. Enrollment is through the Great Bend Rec Center.