A heartbreaking day at the Topeka Zoo saying goodbye to Shannon the elephant

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)– Monday was a sad day at the Topeka Zoo. The youngest and smallest elephant at the zoo died.

The zoo actually had a nickname for Shannon. It was Shannon the Cannon because of her quirky personality. That’s why saying goodbye to her today was heartbreaking for everyone at the zoo.

It was a battle that started on Sunday, when Shannon couldn’t get up. But Topeka Fire and Rescue was able to help get her back on her feet.

“She flared her ears, she did a bluff charge, and you know, that’s Shannon,” Zoo Director Brendan Wiley said. “That seemed like she was right back to her normal self.”

But Monday morning, Shannon was down again. And this time, would not get back up.

“Her body just gave out and she took her last breath,” Wiley said.

It was a heartbreaking moment for everyone around her, including her elephant friends.

“We know that we’re going to have to move through the next portion of this which is allowing our elephants to partake in the mourning process,” Wiley said.

Jeannine Wyatt and Joey Blocker came to the zoo for fun, but found something different too.

“The elephants and giraffes were my favorite exhibit and to know that one of the elephants has just died, makes me very sad,” Wyatt said.

Blood was taken on Sunday to diagnose Shannon, but she died before the results could be processed.

Zoo officials say it could take weeks before they determine the actual cause of death.

Wiley said an elephant being down for too long can be harmful. He said when it gets to a point where it can’t get back up, the result can be suffocation. That is why it is so important to get them up in a timely manner.

But he said in Shannon’s case, it appears she had a seizure and died right after that.

Wiley said their typical approach would be to cremate the elephants, but in the past they have had conversations with a group in Oklahoma that could take her body for a museum.

“If she can continue to touch lives, we’ll go that route,” he said.

That way she could help educate people about why elephants are still relevant.


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