City Council Considers Carting Elephants To Sanctuary

Tembo and Sunda at the Topeka Zoo
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Topeka city leaders say they're considering all options before they decide the fate of the aging Topeka Zoo elephant population, and of all future elephants there.

Topeka City Manager Jim Colson asked for City Council members to let him do his job. Colson has been in office for three weeks, and says he's already been a part of about 15 meetings regarding the Topeka Zoo elephants.

Three animal activists addressed the governing body during the public comment portion of the Council meeting on Tuesday (9/18). The women told the board that the zoo's population of elephants, one Asian and one African, likely can't communicate with each other. They say the elephants are suffering in confinement, and that a crash in Asian elephant Sunda's foot is getting worse, cracks that they say are never seen in wild elephants.

Topeka Zoo veterinarian Shirley Llizo has explained the wound. She said her team was treating it by cutting into it, that it is healing and not infected.

The Topeka Zoo again passed the AZA accreditation process in August, but a September USDA inspection yielded a citation for violating the Animal Welfare Act with the elephants. It's something zoo officials plan to appeal, but Council members John Alcala and Denise Everhart say they support moving the elephants out of Topeka, possibly to an elephant sanctuary.

Mayor Bill Bunten says he feels it's time to take the matter before the governing body for a vote.

Council members also voted to eliminate the requirement to budget $100 thousand for the city's arts fund. That means the mandate is removed, but money can still be added to the fund.

City leaders approved a final plat allowing for the development of a Kenworth truck dealership on a 9-acre site off I-70 and MacVicar.

Tembo and Sunda at the Topeka Zoo