Three of the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo’s young swans are missing from Veterans Memorial Park. Zoo Supervisor Sara Hamlin is asking anyone with information to call the zoo, 620-793-4226.
The swans at Vets Lake have an interesting history.
Two years ago, the zoo moved a male mute swan to the lake as part of a plan to keep geese away and reduce the algae on the water. Another mute swan, believed to be a descendant of swans at the zoo, flew in and the two started a family.
A male swan is called a Cob and a female is called a Pen. Their young of the year are called Cygnets.
Last year’s babies are now considered “teenagers” and they all live on the lake year-round. The swans are the property of the city and zoo, and Park Department employees provide food for them daily, Hamlin said.
Mute swans are an invasive species, so a small procedure is done to remove a pinion joint on each bird’s wings to prevent flight. This keeps the mute swans from taking up the habitat of trumpeter swans, which were once considered for the endangered species list.
About two weeks ago, four cygnets hatched and employees of the Park Department set about to catch them for pinioning.
“Last week, one was caught by a dog,” Hamlin said. “Fortunately, the dog owner did the right thing and brought it to us.” The cygnet was examined by a veterinarian, who determined it has a broken leg. It was released back to its parents and although it had a limp, that wasn’t expected to affect its quality of life. However, that cygnet was found dead, floating beside its mother next to the dock, Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, park employees have been going out daily to catch its three siblings, but they have disappeared.
The grand opening of the expanded grizzly bear exhibit drew more than 1,200 visitors to the zoo.
The project triples the size of the exhibit, with added features for Max, Pooh, Winnie and Piglet to explore and enjoy.
“Now that the bear exhibit is open there’s not a lot going on here,” Hamlin said. “We’re all just trying to recover from a lot of overtime in the last two weeks.” The zoo is short-staffed so the employees are working extra hard, she added. “We are currently hiring for part-time guest relations, a full-time service person and a full-time zookeeper.” Job descriptions and the application form can be found on the city’s website, www.greatbendks.net. Under the service tab, see “employment opportunities.”