Council Votes Unanimous Support To Keep Zoo's Elephant Program

Tembo and Sunda at the Topeka Zoo
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Topeka City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to support continuation of the Topeka Zoo's elephant program.

The vote caps months of discussion over what to do with the zoo's two current elephants, Tembo and Sunda, who are aging, as well as whether the zoo should continue to house elephants at all.

Before the vote, council members Chad Manspeaker and Andrew Gray voiced concerns that the issue had become politicized by outside groups. Council members also questioned whether it was appropriate for them to vote on specifically directing policy for the zoo, since that was the job of Zoo Director Brendan Wiley, overseen by City Manager Jim Colson.

In the end, councilwoman Karen Hiller suggested the council adopt a resolution expressing support for the Topeka Zoo to continue its elephant program with improvements outlined by Wiley.

Wiley addressed the council before their vote. He described planned improvements for the elephant area.

Animal advocacy groups wanted the zoo to send the elephants to a sanctuary, citing violations of the Animal Welfare Act. City officials are in the process of appealing those citations from the USDA.