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Zoo News:
AZA trek starts today; verdict expected Saturday
zoo slt eagle-flying
The Raptor Center at Great Bends Brit Spaugh Zoo is a great place to learn about birds of prey. This display explains that a raptors beak is razor sharp, which allows it to cut through tough skin. Bird beaks are made of keratin the same stuff that human fingernails and hair are made of. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Brit Spaugh Zoo Director Scott Gregory will head to Arizona today, where he and other Great Bend officials will meet with the board of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. On Saturday afternoon, they’ll learn if the zoo has gained the AZA accreditation it has been working toward.
Whether the zoo earns the coveted accreditation on this first attempt or not, working toward the goal for several years has improved the zoo, Gregory said. Some changes have been made, such as moving the bobcats to a zoo in another state because their exhibit area didn’t include a winter enclosure.
“AZA wants the best animal care possible,” Gregory said. So, while a bobcat may be able to weather a Kansas winter without coming inside, that doesn’t meet the Association’s standards. While he’s in Arizona, Gregory said he’ll attend a program on management of the Swift Fox, an animal that would be more suited to the enclosure formerly held by the bobcats. They just need a place to burrow and create a small den.
“The Swift Fox is native to Kansas,” Gregory said, adding it’s “a species of special concern,” if not officially endangered.
In other zoo news, Brit Spaugh Zoo has acquired a female trumpeter swan from the Hutchinson zoo and Gregory hopes to find a male so the two can mate.
Zoo staff and friends also held their first planning meeting this week for the annual Zoo Boo, which will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 27. “We are planning on having a scary section again,” Gregory said. “That was a huge success last year.”
Groups that want to set up a booth will need between 3,000 and 4,000 pieces of individually wrapped candy, or people can contact the zoo staff for information on sponsorships.