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Zoo prepares for new construction
Zoo Supervisor Ashley Burdick is shown holding Swanson, the trumpeter swan.

Usually, the spotlight is on the animals at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo. But this month, the humans are pretty busy, too.

Zoo Supervisor and  Curator Ashley Burdick described plans for new playground equipment and an expanded exhibit area for the cougars.

The Great Bend Zoological Society and other groups raised money to help update the play area. It will feature a combination wheelchair-accessible swing and molded swing and pour-in-place (squishy rubber) substrate.

The old playground has been removed in preparation for new playground equipment, Burdick said. That means the zoo will be without a playground for the next month or two, but she hopes visitors will excuse the inconvenience as something better will be taking the place of the old play equipment.

Most of the wood in the old playground had seen better days, but the plastic equipment from the old set will have a new purpose in some of the animal enclosures.

“We’ve also cleared the area so when the concrete company has an opening they can pour the footers for the new cougar yard expansion,” Burdick said. 

Rabbit news

At the end of July, zookeepers announced that Brittany, the rabbit, has cancer.

“After discussing with our veterinarians and keeper staff, we’ve elected to move her off-exhibit to a quiet area where she will spend her remaining time.” Burdick said Brittany “will get all the snacks her heart desires” and staff will continue to monitor her health.

Brittany came to the zoo three years ago from the Golden Belt Humane Society. Her exact age and history were unknown.

“Because we moved her off-exhibit, we were able to help out the humane society by taking in two more female albino rex rabbits,” Burdick said. They were born at the shelter and are 3 months old.

“They are socialized and will be part of our animal programs and birthday party live-animal show offerings,” Burdick said. Although they haven’t been named yet, they are already on exhibit in the Raptor Center.

Alligator art

“There’s a new gator in town! Luckily this one doesn’t require food!” That was a post on the zoo’s Facebook page in July, after a metal cutout alligator was added near the “real” alligators’ pond. “Be sure to take a photo with him on your next visit to the zoo! He’s 12 feet long to illustrate just how large alligators can be. American Alligators can be anywhere from 8-15 feet long; however, the longest ever recorded was 19 feet 2 inches long! Thank you to the Great Bend Zoological Society for making this happen!”

Let’s talk lions

The zoo will celebrate World Lion Day with a keeper chat at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 13, down at the lion exhibit.