Bunny the elephant

Born in 1952 and captured in the wild in Burma, Bunny the elephant arrived at Mesker Park Zoo in 1954 as a 450-pound, 4 foot tall infant. This photo shows Bunny, age 12, having her nails filed by zookeeper Bonnie Conway. Bunny proved a popular attraction at the zoo for many decades, eventually growing to 7,800 pounds.

Discussion for Bunny’s retirement began in the 1990’s, largely due to the changing standards for animal welfare that began to recognize problems with holding elephants in captivity alone. In 1999, after much controversy, the Evansville Parks Board unanimously voted to retire the elephant.On Sept. 29, 1999, after a public going-away party featuring an elephant-sized cake from Donut Bank Bakery for spectators and grape leaves for the elephant, Bunny was retired to “The Elephant Sanctuary” in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Bunny passed away at the sanctuary on May 14, 2009, after nearly 10 years with other retired elephants.

History Lesson is a pictorial history of Evansville compiled by Daniel Smith, local history and digitization librarian at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.

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