Meet a 58-year-old Movie Star at the Topeka Zoo

(Frank) Back again. The Topeka Zoo, which is known as the World-Famous Topeka Zoo. (Deb) Thanks to Gary Clarke. (Frank) Gary Clarke put it on there and it really kind of stuck. Gary still does a lot with zoo when he’s not off on safari somewhere. (Deb) What an amazing man, he’s just one of the best people on the planet. (Frank) Yes, but the Topeka Zoo has really changed over the many years, there used to be monkey island and when I was a kid and you walk through the gates there was monkey island, it really looked like a castle and all that and the monkeys are there and there was a moat. You can throw peanuts to them and all that but that’s long gone, but the zoo now is just a wonderful place to go because it offers so much for all ages, really. (Deb) We got the bears now and I love the bears, I wanted a bear so badly when I was a kid. (Frank) Yes. Many years ago they had polar bears and of course during the summer they’d keep big blocks of ice in the water and all of that but we’ve had elephants for a long time but the next story is going to be about the new additions to our elephants. And one of them is a movie star. (Deb) Are we lucky or what? Not everybody gets a movie star retiring to their town so we are thrilled to have a pretty big movie star here in our midst. (Frank) Yes, her name is Cora. She started with Burt Reynolds. (Debs) How good does it get? (Frank) Have we got you intrigued? Well then stay tuned for this story. A movie star has moved to our capital city. Her name is Cora. She is 58 years old, and has quite a resume, having starred alongside superstar Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit 2. Not your usual svelte starlet, she weighs in a little over two tons. Before visions of weight loss plans begin dancing in your head, let us introduce Cora, an Asian Elephant. She arrived with her companion Shannon, a 34-year-old African Elephant, at the Topeka Zoo in August. According to the zoo’s press release, 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 for more than three decades. After one of the owners passed away, 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. As with all incoming animals to the zoo, the elephants will be in quarantine for a period of time determined by the zoo’s veterinarian. To give the elephants privacy during the transition, the elephant exhibit may be closed to the public during parts of the day. Brendan said, The zoo is extremely excited for the arrival of the new elephants and looks forward to introducing the new additions to the community. Shannon is disciplined and loves to be the center of attention. As with many adolescents, when she doesn’t get her way, she will sometimes sulk, dragging her trunk on the ground or sticking out her tongue. Her favorite toy is her blue barrel of which she carries with her wherever she goes. She enjoys treats, her favorite of which is watermelon. When Shannon was 18 months old, she was introduced to Cora. Cora, who is several years older, became an instant “mother” to Shannon. The two are inseparable. Cora is very passive. She will wait patiently for her turn. She loves attention and is very protective of Shannon. Cora is a very vocal elephant and can often be heard rumbling and trumpeting with delight. Cora and Shannon join Tembo, a 46-year-old African elephant, and Sunda, a 56-year-old Asian elephant. For updates, visit the zoo’s website and Facebook pages, and plan to visit them in person!

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