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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Zoo concerned elephants could fall in moat

BY BECCY TANNER
The Wichita Eagle

WICHITA — The exhibit for the elephants at the Sedgwick County Zoo is about to get a new look — and some visitors may not like it.

It's a safety issue for the aging elephants, the zoo says.

Work began this week to replace the moat in the exhibit with an 8-foot-tall post and cable fence.

Stephanie and Cinda, the two South African bush elephants, are close to 40 years old. Zoo officials are concerned that the elephants, who like to stretch their trunks out for treats and grass on the other side, could lose their balance and fall into the moat.

"With each passing day and year this balancing act becomes more nerve-racking for our zookeepers," said Mark Reed, director of the Sedgwick County Zoo. "All it would take is one misstep and we could have a dangerous situation for our elephants."

Although zoo officials have plans to build a new, much larger elephant exhibit, construction most likely won't begin until the local and national economy significantly improve, Reed said. In the meantime, the fence will help keep the elephants safe.

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