Elephants | The Topeka Zoo


In 2016, the zoo received two female elephants, one Asian and one African, who joined the Topeka Zoo’s current elephants Tembo and Sunda.

Cora, then a 58-year-old Asian Elephant and Shannon, then a 34-year-old African Elephant (who passed away in 2017), arrived at the Topeka Zoo Aug. 24, from Florida.  For 33 years, Cora and Shannon, along with their owners, have traveled across the Eastern half of the United States presenting an elephant educational program called Elephant Encounters.  After one of the owners passed away in February, a decision was made to retire Cora and Shannon with the hope that they could remain together.  According to Zoo Director Brendan Wiley, the Topeka Zoo was one of three zoos in the nation that house both Asian and African elephants together.  “We are delighted to have these two elephants join our herd and live out their remaining years in comfort and peace,” Wiley said.

About Our Elephants

Tembo, an African elephant born in 1970 is very curious.  She loves to explore in her yard and it is not uncommon to find her rearranging her yard daily, moving logs and tires about.  She accepts people easily and you can become her best buddy with a baby carrot.  Tembo LOVES to paint.  She will paint with both her trunk as well as a paint brush.  It is not uncommon for her to paint on herself as well.  She loves water, dirt, and mud.  She will roll around in the mud coating herself from head to toe.  She also enjoys sand bathing.  Tembo LOVES food!  There are not many foods on the menu that she won’t try.

Sunda, was born in 1960 and has a delightful personality.  Sunda loves playing with Tembo.  They have been together for 40 years and are like sisters.   She enjoys music and painting.   Unlike Tembo, Sunda could work on the same painting for hours.  She will paint with the very tip of her trunk and creates masterpieces that are beautiful but rare.  Sunda loves water and enjoys bath time.  She will splash herself and those around her and blow bubbles in the water.  Like any girl, Sunda enjoys a variety of perfumes especially citrus scents.  On occasion, you can find Sunda squeezing or stepping on citrus fruit then spraying the juice on herself.

Cora, was born in 1958 and came to the zoo with another elephant that she had been with for thirty years, Shannon (passed in 2017). Cora is very playful but she doesn’t mind waiting patiently for her turn.  She loves attention. Cora is a very vocal elephant and can often be heard rumbling and trumpeting with delight.

An Elephant Program Among elephant-video-graphicthe Best

To see what makes our elephant program among the best and to view a day in the life of our elephants, click on the video link at the right.

For complete details on our zoo’s elephant program, visit www.trunktruths.com.


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