Topeka Zoo Fails to Monitor Ailing Elephant

Topeka Zoo Fails to Monitor Ailing Elephant

Topeka Zoo Fails to Monitor Ailing Elephant

CONTACT: Toni Frohoff, Ph.D.,, 805-836-0496

TOPEKA, Kan. (December 19, 2017) - In Defense of Animals (IDA) is appalled that the Topeka Zoo in Kansas neglected to adequately monitor Shannon, a 35 year old African elephant who died on Monday morning, December 11th, after spending, what was apparently, close to ten brutal hours lying “downed” on the floor on the night of December 10th into the next morning  - with no apparent monitoring of her situation from zoo staff for the entire evening. This was the second time in 24 hours that Shannon was found downed. The first time, earlier in the day of December 10th, firefighters were called in to help hoist her to her feet.  

“It is inexcusable that the Topeka Zoo staff apparently went home that night without leaving at least one person to monitor Shannon from the remote video feed”, says Dr. Toni Frohoff, Elephant Scientist at In Defense of Animals. “It should be patently obvious that a sick elephant, especially one who had been downed earlier that same day, must be watched vigilantly around the clock.”

Even the Topeka Zoo’s Director, Brendan Wiley, acknowledged the dangers for an elephant to be down for such an unnaturally long time.  He said on camera, on the day of Shannon’s death, “We think she was down for a total of about 10 hours yesterday and …. probably about the same amount of time today”. “That’s a lot of time for an elephant to be down”.  He was also quoted as saying that, for elephants, “lying down for several hours can potentially be fatal, given their body mass."

In Defense of Animals is calling for the USDA and the Topeka Zoo to release the three remaining elephants to a certified sanctuary, the only type of facility that can truly meet their needs. In Defense of Animals is also calling on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as it appears that Topeka Zoo fails to meet the stated criteria for AZA accreditation, and we urge the AZA to revisit the zoo's extensive history of USDA animal welfare violations in light of this reprehensible case of negligence. Topeka Zoo has been cited multiple times by the USDA for animal welfare violations, animal mistreatment and neglect, making it one of the nation's worst offenders for an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facility.

Not bothering to check Shannon’s video feed for over 9 hours, the night after an emergency ordeal, is nothing short of gross neglect and unacceptably inadequate care. The exact cause of Shannon’s death has not yet been disclosed.  But proper observation would have in the least, minimized Shannon’s suffering, and with intervention, could have even prevented her death.

Frohoff continues, “At 35-years old, Shannon should have been living some of her best years, yet she was sick at Topeka Zoo. We call on Topeka Zoo and the USDA to avert further tragedy and release elephants, Cora, Tembo and Sunda, to an accredited sanctuary where they can receive the more personalized and professional health care they need and deserve.”

Topeka Zoo has been shamed on In Defense of Animals’ list of the 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants five times, and placed in the “Hall of Shame” in 2012 for keeping elephants in inadequate conditions.

For more information, please see

### ENDS ###

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 30-year history of fighting for animals, people and the environment through education, campaigns and hands-on rescue facilities in India, Africa, and rural Mississippi.

IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS • 3010 KERNER BLVD. • SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901 • 415-448-0048







You Can Support This Campaign By Donating

Please help us protect elephants!