To say the elephants at the Topeka Zoo are an important part of zookeeper Elise Neuer’s life is an understatement.
“They are my best friends,” she said.
So much so that elephants Tembo and Sunda were cast as the lead female roles in a romantic scene written by Neuer’s fiance, Jesse Bargas.
The well-coordinated marriage proposal was captured on video.
In the video, Neuer is shown helping Kim Doman, the zoo’s animal care supervisor, with an elephant painting session where elephants use their trunks to paint murals.
Members of the public were watching on July 19, as well as several zoo employees, which Neuer thought was strange since it was a typical work day.
When Doman peeled one of the elephant’s paintings from the board, she showed it to Neuer who read the words, “Will you marry me?” on the canvas.
“Oh, my God,” Neuer exclaims as she turns to see her boyfriend, who had sneaked up behind her and knelt down with a ring in hand. “Are you freaking kidding me?”
She did say yes.
Neuer was surprised, but said they’d been dating for six years and had been discussing marriage. She even joked that it would be fun to include the elephants in their engagement announcement.
“It was definitely a surprise for me,” she said. “He had everything planned.”
Neuer, who has worked at the zoo since 2011, said it was important to include the elephants because she’s been drawn to them since day one.
“I’ve always been amazed and fascinated by them,” she said.
Will the elephants stand up with her during the wedding?
We’ll have to wait for the sequel.