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Zoo news: Social distancing encouraged as zoo reopens
Vicky Reid
Vicky Reid greets visitors entering the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo. A plastic shield now separates the masked customer relations employee from the public.

The Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo is open once again. The new hours are noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

Visitors may enter through the main entrance at the Raptor Center. Zoo Supervisor and Curator Ashley Burdick said they have made modifications to some areas “to protect our animal collection as well as our staff.”

A plastic shield separates visitors from the customer service representative at the front desk, who was also wearing a face mask on Monday. Masks are not required for guests but they are encouraged.

“We ask that visitors maintain social distancing when around other groups in the zoo and respect any barriers placed out in the zoo or Raptor Center,” Burdick said. The playground and outdoor restrooms will remain closed, but there is one unisex restroom available in the Raptor Center.

New at the zoo

The new exhibit space for small animals and aquariums is in the Raptor Center but that’s one of the areas that are off-limits to the public for now.

“We got a little slowed down on the progress of a few things but now that things are opening again, we should continue moving forward,” Burdick said. “Our parrot outdoor enclosure is nearly done (but) we are waiting on the shipment of the mesh-work. The bison are still coming; we are finalizing some last details on shipment and we’re hoping to have them here in the next month or so!”

Sarah Shirer from the Great Bend Zoological Society was at the zoo Monday, working on the plants in the Butterfly House. She is one of three master gardeners who have been volunteering at the zoo. There were no butterflies to see Monday but Shirer said a shipment of chrysalises is expected and once they arrive they will turn into adult butterflies in about two weeks.

Once a year, the Great Bend Tribune, with help from the zoo staff, creates a special publication dedicated to the zoo. The publication was delayed this year, just like the reopening of the zoo itself, as we awaited the lifting of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was inserted in copies of last Sunday’s Great Bend Tribune. If you missed it, we’ll be making extra copies available for the zoo to give away.

Emily Denham family from Wilson
Emily Denham from Wilson brought her four children, ages 3-7, to the zoo when it reopened Monday. They are shown here looking at a lemur.