Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Cora and Shannon, Topeka Zoo's Two New Elephants, Getting Used to New Home

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Cora and Shannon, Topeka Zoo's Two New Elephants, Getting Used to New Home

Article excerpt

When Joyce Daneke came to visit the Topeka Zoo on Thursday morning, she had no idea she would be among the first guests to see Cora and Shannon, the zoo's two new elephants who were making their public viewing debut.

"I'm pretty excited that they were here and someone was able to tell us their names, and which elephants they were and how old they were," said Daneke, of Topeka.

More than a dozen people were on hand when the iron doors swung open in the elephant house.

First out was Cora -- the matriarch at 58 years of age -- followed by Shannon, a mere 34 years of age. Cora is an Asian elephant, while Shannon is an African elephant.

The new elephants arrived at the Topeka Zoo five weeks ago from Florida, where they had been based for about 30 years while part of a traveling educational exhibit.

In Topeka, they will join the zoo's existing elephants Sunda, 56, and Tembo, 46 -- though the four haven't been all together yet.

That will come in a couple of weeks, zoo officials said Thursday. Until then, Cora and Shannon will be out in the morning and Tembo and Sunda will be out in the afternoon. All four of the elephants are females.

Daneke said not only was she glad to see two new elephants at the Topeka Zoo, she was "pretty excited for our existing girls, that they have some new folks to play with and associate with."

Having the new elephants, along with plans for a major upgrade in the exhibit within five years, is a major step for the Topeka Zoo, Daneke said.

"I think it'll spark people's interest back in the elephant exhibit," she said. "I think elephants are majestic animals. They are dear to my heart, so I'm hoping more people will take a better interest in them."

Beginning in mid-October, the elephants' schedule will change again as the four elephants will be integrated into one herd. …

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