A pictorial story of the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo is now on display in the Raptor Center. Zoo Supervisor and Curator Sara Hamlin said the photo enlargements came from a box handed down from the Park Department a couple of years ago.
There is a photo of the zoo’s namesake, Brit Spaugh, with two pronghorn antelope. There are also photos of park employees, mostly unidentified. Former Parks Director Jerry Tillery is shown in a photo with an owl. Rehabilitating injured birds of prey has been part of the zoo’s mission for decades, Hamlin noted.
There are also animals and exhibits in the undated photos that would not be possible by today’s standards of care. The polar bears that came to the zoo in the 1960s as cubs were brother and sister. Someone went to Alaska and killed the mother to bring them here.
A cassowary — the world’s third-tallest and second-heaviest living bird, smaller only than the ostrich and emu — shown with its shipping crate, is a dangerous animal and Hamlin expressed surprise that a small zoo such as ours would acquire one. There’s also an ostrich.
There was, even decades ago, an interest in conservation. Great Bend’s zoo has a history of helping bring the Trumpeter Swan species back from the brink of extinction in the 20th century. “We were the first zoo to breed them in captivity,” Hamlin said.
There are also photos of children visiting the zoo. The methods have changed, but education and entertainment are still an important part of the zoo’s mission. Hamlin said she hopes someone will visit the exhibit soon and say, “That’s me in the photo!”
Happy Birthday Amana and Sauda
On Valentine’s Day the zookeepers had some fun, placing decorative hearts with Madagascar hissing cockroaches and the tarantula, for example. They also celebrated the second birthday of lion cubs Amana and Sauda with some enrichment items to play with or taste.
“They had a kissing booth and streamers in the yard,” Hamlin said. There was also some whipped cream added to the “boomer ball” on the zip line, a favorite toy.