Sedgwick County Zoo staff respond to claims about the treatment of their elephants
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Sedgwick County zookeepers spent the day addressing an elephant in the room.
One animal activist group has placed the zoo number nine on the list of worst zoos for elephants.
However, the director of marketing for the zoo is standing behind the treatment of their largest residents. She says socialization is what's crucial.
"It's more important that they have a positive social environment to live in than it is that they have 10 miles available to walk every day," said Director of Marketing and Communications Jennica King.
King says providing a natural habitat is important.
"We're engaging them, um, encouraging them to exhibit some of their natural behaviors, which is reaching up high to get food and looking around on the ground to get food interacting with one another," King said.
They even enjoy their version of basketball on the natural substrate sand provided.
King says in their elephant program, they focus on building connections.
"Unfortunately with the urbanization of the world, many kids will never have an opportunity to see an elephant or a lot of the other animals in the wild. So we're building that connection in order to, um, inspire people to take care of nature and teach people why they should care."
Annual donations and ticket purchases contribute significantly to the care of the elephants.
"It's, you know, science, it's research, it's, you know, training. It's making sure that you know, right here in the barn, we have a team of expert elephant care professionals who participate in research."
The elephants receive regular hormonal checks to determine stress levels
"It's hard to put it into words, you know, nobody cares for these animals more than we do," King said.
As an accredited institution, they have the responsibility of providing the utmost care for the elephants which is something King stands by.
"You know, they might be in a smaller area here in the barn, but they're safe and they're healthy."
The group "In Defense of Animals" also named zoos in Kansas City, Omaha, and Tulsa on its list.