Topeka Zoo reports Shannon the elephant has died

Courtesy: Topeka Zoo

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Topeka Zoo is reporting Monday morning that Shannon the elephant has died after she was found laying down again.

This comes less than a day after Shannon, a 35-year-old African elephant was found lying down and unable to stand up. The Topeka Fire Department responded to help and began the process of getting straps under Shannon’s side and attached her to a rigging system. When all was ready, the rigging was attached to a specialized hoist to help lift her up. With the majority of Shannon’s body weight off the ground, she was given an enema for rapid hydration. After several failed attempts, she was finally able to stand and support her own weight but by morning zoo officials reported she was back on her side unable to stand again.

The same Down Elephant Protocol that was so successful Sunday was initiated a second day in a row.

“The entire team that tried to help her was truly committed,” said Zoo Director Brendan Wiley. “For Shannon to present this a second day in a row, we thought something catastrophic was going on in her body.”

According to the zoo, the process to get the elephant up and off the ground worked as well if not better than the day before.

“Something was just different,” said Wiley. “We were able to get a number of medications on board but it was like her body simply gave out. She died surrounded by people who truly loved her.”

According to the zoo, elephants don’t normally lay down for extended periods of time due to their body mass. They said if the elephant stays laying down for too long, body processes can begin that may cause the elephant to die.

The zoo said 20 minutes after Shannon passed, her other herd members were allowed in with Shannon to help with their mourning process.

Zoo veterinary staff will begin a necropsy sometime Monday afternoon to determine the actual cause of death. Depending on the time it takes to get back histopathology reports. The zoo said it may be two to three weeks before the cause of death is known.

“To all that helped in the fight to save Shannon and to all of the well-wishers, the zoo expresses its deepest gratitude.”

Shannon first arrived at the zoo in August 2016 with her companion, a 59-year-old named Cora. The two came from Elephant Encounter, a traveling elephant program based near Tampa, Florida.

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