By COLE REIF
Great Bend Post
Along with a free zoo that features grizzly bears, lions, alligators,
cougars and so many more animals, Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo also provides a raptor
rehabilitation program for injured birds. The zoo staff nurses anywhere between
40-70 birds of prey each year.
Before staff releases the birds back into the wild, they have to test the birds’ flight. Zoo Curator Ashley Burdick said the current situation is less than ideal.
"Right now we have smaller enclosures that we kind of test their flight or we do creance flying," said Burdick. "You essentially put anklets on the birds and almost fly them like a kite. It works okay but you have to make sure there are no trees and nothing they could get caught in. Every once in a while, other birds start to dive bomb because they don't want birds of prey in the area."
The Great Bend zoo used to have a “flight cage” for the rehabilitation program located at the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility. Driving nearly 30 miles to Larned wasn’t practical so the zoo, along with the Great Bend Zoological Society, is hoping to construct a big enough cage on zoo grounds or somewhere else on city property.
Burdick estimated the flight cage should be
100 feet long by 30 feet wide and could cost upwards of $40,000.
"We're hoping to get funding for this project mostly from the Zoological Society," said Burdick.
A flight cage can house a bird as long as needed to build up their flight muscles, as they are able to fly more than a session with a zookeeper.