Special Event Planned to Honor Zoo Elephants
2012-03-18

Animal Outreach of Kansas, the group asking that Topeka zoo elephants Sunda and Tembo be moved to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn., plans to seek to educate Topeka city officials about that sanctuary during a special event that will be held to honor the elephants.

The event will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 5, at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 S.W. 10th Ave., said AOK co-founder Judy Carman.

“We will show a film about The Elephant Sanctuary, present our reasons for wanting Tembo and Sunda to be able to retire there, and answer questions,” Carman said. “This meeting will also be open to the public, and we hope to get a big turnout as there seems to be a lot of interest in this issue.”

Sunda, a 51-year-old female Asian elephant, and Tembo, a 41-year-old female African elephant, have been together at the Topeka Zoo since Tembo arrived in 1976.

Animal advocates sought unsuccessfully to convince the city to send them to The Elephant Sanctuary in February 2010, when the council voted 7-1 not to make that move.

The city then hired Brendan Wiley as zoo director in May 2010. Wiley opposes sending Sunda and Tembo to The Elephant Sanctuary but acknowledges the zoo faces decisions regarding its future in terms of housing elephants.

AOK, a nonprofit organization, announced in January it was asking the city to move Sunda and Tembo to the 2,700-acre elephant sanctuary.

Carman said in an email Friday that AOK was recently able to arrange a private tour of The Elephant Sanctuary for city officials. AOK invited Wiley, interim city manager Dan Stanley, Mayor Bill Bunten and the nine city council members to take part.

Carman said The Elephant Sanctuary gave several possible dates for the tour, “but unfortunately everyone had conflicting schedules and could not go.”

AOK then made plans to educate city leaders about The Elephant Sanctuary at the April 5 event, Carman said.

“We are not giving up on this campaign, and a lot seems to be in limbo at the zoo right now, so we are very hopeful,” she said.

 Original Article