Zoo Could Lead Elephant Conservation Efforts, Director Says

Tembo and Sunda at the Topeka Zoo
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Topeka Zoo could pave the way for conservation efforts across the country, says Zoo Director Brendan Wiley.

A zoo expansion plan is an option Topeka city leaders are exploring for the future of the elephants. Wiley says he's weighing four options, and that the zoo should commit to supporting elephant conservation, or get out of elephants altogether.

Wiley says he's weighing the facts of moving the Topeka Zoo's two geriatric elephants. Replacing the Asian and African elephants with a new kind of animal is one of four options the zoo's considering. Others include keeping the elephant habitat as-is, adding an elephant to the exhibit, and expanding the exhibit to create a progressive conservation, education or breeding facility.

Wiley says the zoo holds the framework for expansion, but will need a large community commitment.

"If that's the direction we want to go, then we must continue to work with our support society and community leaders," Wiley said. "We need to redefine who we are... Either we commit 110 percent, or get our elephants to a program that will."

The public can weigh in at two hearings, one at 6 p.m. Tuesday, October 9th, at the Big Gage Shelter House. The second hearing will be help at 2:00 p.m. October 13th, at the Topeka Zoo.

City leaders say they should have a plan for the future of elephants at the Topeka Zoo by the end of October.

Tembo and Sunda at the Topeka Zoo