Sunda, a 58-year-old Asian elephant, recently died at the Topeka Zoo in Kansas. The elephant, who spent 52 years of her life in the zoo, suffered from a number of health issues, and the death of the beautiful animal was met with much sadness. However, the death is made even more alarming by the fact that the zoo itself is number one on In Defense of Animals’ (IDA’s) 2017 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants list. The zoo has appeared on this list six times already, and it has been found that the facility is not able to provide elephants with proper care. There is little doubt that the two elephants remaining on the premises, Cora and Tembo, would truly benefit from a move to a specialized sanctuary.
Sunda is the second elephant to die in the span of less than two years at the zoo. The 35-year-old elephant, Shannon, passed away last December after she was left unsupervised for at least 10 hours … despite the fact that she was chronically ill and needed constant monitoring. The neglect of Shannon and her medical condition, following many other citations, earned the zoo a dreary reputation. What is more, many of the health problems suffered by the elephants in the Topeka Zoo are likely getting worse because of the cold climate in Kansas, which is in no way appropriate for the elephants.
“This zoo has been cited numerous times for violations of Federal Animal Welfare regulations that include animal deaths, injuries, and lack of proper veterinary care,” IDA wrote about the Topeka Zoo. “In 2013, the zoo paid a $45,000 civil penalty to settle charges brought against it by the USDA for at least 51 willful violations of the Animal Welfare Act. … The charges included failure to provide adequate veterinary care for elephants Tembo and Sunda, including problems with their skin, feet, and nutrition.”
A zoo is never a good option for an elephant. If moved to a sanctuary in a warmer, more suitable climate, Cora and Tembo would finally be able to experience an endlessly better quality of life – and be much less at risk, which is something that everybody concerned about the pair should strive for. Click here to sign a Care2 petition urging the Topeka Zoo to secure a sanctuary retirement for the two surviving elephants, giving them the better life they deserve.
Image source: Pixel-mixer/Pixabay