Elephant Suffers Prolonged Death From Topeka Zoo Negligence

Topeka Zoo in Kansas failed, on many brutal counts, to adequately care for Shannon, a 35-year old African elephant who died on December 11. Shannon spent roughly ten excruciating hours on her side overnight — with no monitoring of her situation from Zoo staff after they left for the evening. This is inexcusable since Shannon, the Zoo's youngest elephant, was found "downed" on her side on the previous day, when the Zoo called firefighters to help hoist her to her feet.

Worse, medical records indicate that Shannon was suffering for weeks — if not months — showing indications of pain, tremors, and weakness with little to inadequate intervention by the Zoo!

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be inspecting the facility again soon and we do not want the Department to let the remaining elephants down! 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 accredited facility. Remaining geriatric elephants Cora, Tembo and Sunda are no doubt aching for the warm weather and soft surfaces of sanctuary.

We call on the USDA and the Topeka Zoo to avert further tragedy and release these elephants to an accredited sanctuary immediately.

For more information, see our media release.

What you can do:



Don't let Shannon's suffering and death be in vain. Please help by urging the USDA by phone and by letter to send the remaining three elephants to an accredited sanctuary right away!

1) Make a call to the Director of Animal Welfare Operations at the USDA, Robert Gibbens, DVM.


This will take several minutes for you to leave your message as staff will not let you communicate directly with Dr. Gibbens. Call number above which routes you to the Eastern Regional Office, and choose Option 2 the two times you get a recording. This will get you to someone in the Western Regional Office. Then say you'd like your message to Dr. Gibbens to be passed along and simply say something like:

"The Topeka Zoo has a history of elephant welfare violations. Shannon's unnecessary suffering and death is further evidence that the Topeka Zoo is unable to reasonably care for elephants. Please shut down its elephant exhibit and send the remaining three elephants to an accredited sanctuary immediately."

2) Send our letter.


Personalize and submit the letter below to email your comments to:
  • Robert Gibbens, D.V.M. - Director, Animal Welfare Operations - USDA/APHIS/AC Western Region




Topeka Zoo in Kansas Cannot Properly Care for Elephants

Dear [Decision Maker],

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]


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