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Zookeepers are on the job every day
zoo 2018 giving tree
The Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo’s Christmas giving tree is back. Like the tree from 2018 pictured here, the tree has paper ornaments that list enrichment items that can be purchased for zoo animals.

While many humans took a day or two off last week for Thanksgiving, there is work at Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo every day of the year. Animals need to be fed even when they aren’t spending time outside with human visitors, said Ashley Burdick, the zoo’s supervisor and curator.

“We need to be here every day to provide care to the animals and we’re not complaining,” she posted on Facebook. “Holidays with the critters can be a lot of fun!”

Barring special circumstances such as a storm or COVID-19 restrictions, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day are the only two days of the year when the zoo is closed to visitors. Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily and admission is free.

For Thanksgiving enrichment, the animals received special foods.

“Just like humans, the animals indulge in goodies on holidays!” Burdick said. “I made some sweet potato pies for the lemurs, Rhonda the Grivet, Rerun the Gibbon, the arctic foxes, Kojack the porcupine, and Poppy the binturong.”

The bears still snack a little each day, so they also got pies. The lemurs actually had a little table set up with their pie, peas, carrots, dried cranberries and fruit juice. Many of the other animals, like the possum, armadillo and parrots, enjoyed mashed sweet potatoes. 

Videos of the lemurs and porcupine enjoying their food can be found at

“We’ll be doing Christmas enrichment as well,” Burdick said. “We will also be putting out a Christmas tree with gifts for the animals that people can donate. We also have a wish-list on our website, which also has our Amazon wish-list if anyone would like to purchase a gift for the animals.”

Speaking of gifts, there are items that humans can enjoy for sale in the zoo’s gift shop, too. Some of the newest items are magnets (the kind that go on refrigerators, etc.) featuring photos of some of the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo’s animals. Thill Printing in Great Bend helped with the production.