After reading a slew of negative opinions about the zoo lately, both in the Tribune and on social media, I feel compelled to express my support of the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo. For a while now I have been wanting to show my appreciation for the dedicated staff and zookeepers, but now I feel I must also defend our wonderful zoo.
I think when you grow up with a free zoo in your town, you don’t realize how rare and awesome it is to have one! It was not until later in my life, living in a big city with small children, that I realized how special it is that Great Bend has this gem. When considering moving back home, the second thing in the pro column right under family, was the Brit Spaugh Zoo.
The zookeepers and staff at the Brit Spaugh Zoo put their heart and soul into our zoo. The level of respect and compassion that they have for these animals, many of whom are geriatric and would have otherwise been euthanized if not for the zoo, is something precious to see. I had the pleasure of attending the Barton County Young Professionals event BBQ and Bears, Wine and Wild Beasts where we received a behind the scenes tour of the zoo from zookeeper Justine. She had been at work since 8 a.m. that morning and this was 12 hours later, yet. I felt like I was seeing the zoo for the very first time. Her enthusiasm, knowledge, and love of the animals was an impressive thing to witness, and I know that the other zookeepers are the same way.
There are many volunteer opportunities available at the zoo, one of which is tending to the grounds. I guess that the foliage of the zoo is open to different perceptions. Having grown up here in the 80’s and 90’s, where most of the zoo was concrete, I appreciate the trees, bushes and bamboo. Could it be better landscaped? Sure, but that requires a lot of time and money, which is generally spent tending to the animals. Our zookeepers are doing everything they can for this zoo, and I can only imagine how it hurts their hearts to hear that our zoo should be bulldozed.
I am so happy to be raising my family in Great Bend. The fact that I can take my kids to this wonderful free zoo, sometimes weekly, is an absolute blessing. My kids have gotten to know and love a Binturong! How cool is that??? Please consider volunteering, donating to the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo or becoming a member of the Great Bend Zoological Society. Lets work together to keep our zoo a part of what makes Great Bend great.