Topeka Fire Department trained to lift elephants

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Topeka zoo workers and zoo goers are mourning the death of Shannon, a 35-year-old elephant. She died Monday morning after what Zoo workers say appeared to be a seizure.

Zoo workers first discovered she couldn’t stand up on her own Sunday morning. The fire department arrived at the zoo and lifted her to her feet. But when zoo staff found her lying down again Monday morning, the fire department had to raise the 5,500 pound animal again.

While these situations were the first time the fire crew had attempted to lift an elephant, Topeka Fire Marshal Michael Martin said they have prepared for it for a few years.

“I don’t want to make it sound like an easy process, because the guys worked really hard at it,” Martin said. “But it really is part of what they train for.”

The crew had previously used large tires in their training to lift an animal as large as Shannon. The equipment and plan worked as well as planned.

“You set up what’s called a tripod, which is basically just what you think of when you think of a tripod,” Martin said. “And then they had to do some specialized rigging with the ropes and everything to be able to get harnesses around the animal and be able to pick her up.”

The zoo’s director said everyone was committed to helping Shannon, and she died surrounded by people who loved her.

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