Skip Navigation LinksThe Fight to Save Shannon the Elephant Ends in Heartbreak

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​The Fight to Save Shannon the Elephant Ends in Heartbreak


A battle that started yesterday ended this morning for Shannon, a 35 year old African elephant at the Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center.  Around the 11:00 hour under the care of zoo staff and emergency responders, Shannon appeared to experience a seizure and died immediately after.

After being found in a situation the day before where she had gone down and was unable to stand up.  Heroic efforts that day had gotten Shannon back up on her feet.  During a night check, she appeared to be back to normal.  By morning, she was back on her side unable to stand again.

 The same Down Elephant Protocol that was so successful the previous day 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.”

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.”

Approximately 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 this afternoon to determine the actual cause of death.  Depending on the time it takes to get back histopathology reports, it may be two to three weeks before the cause of death is known.  Through its social media, the zoo will continue to release information as it becomes available.

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