Fans, employees of Empire Slice House hoping for safe return of ‘Ellie’

OKLAHOMA CITY - Another colorful "animal" is on the lam in Oklahoma City.

Last week, a purple penguin was stolen from a downtown business, and now investigators are on the hunt for a pink elephant.

This isn't the first time "Ellie" has been stolen from Empire Slice House in the Plaza District, but patrons and staff hope it’s the last.

Since day one, even at their old location, a beloved pink elephant named “Ellie” sat outside Empire Slice House. Over the years, she's been the subject of a tattoo and posed for pictures, as well as news stories.

However - in just a matter of moments Monday night, she was gone.

"We do have cameras in place," said Steven Schuster, the area director for 84 Hospitality Group. "Unfortunately, those weren't able to catch any kind of culprit, any kind of action last night."

Surveillance video shows the elephant being lifted to the top of a vehicle around midnight, not long before Ellie's 2 a.m. curfew when staff members usually bring her in for the night.

Across the street at Easy E Slice Shop, Ellie has a twin sister, also named Ellie. She's pretty big so those who work at the shop can't imagine how hard it was to get her twin on top of a car.

"That was quite surprising," Schuster said. "Apparently, the guy was just driving down the road, one hand on the top, holding on to it. Which, in its own right, is fairly impressive for how quickly they were able to do that."

The news of Ellie's "kidnapping" led to an outpouring of support on social media. Fans shared their favorite pictures with her as the staff pleaded for her safe return.

"She's kind of an important part of the crew that we have here and we consider her one with our Empire family here," said Schuster.

Patrons were also left hoping they see their favorite greeter again soon.

"I've got a bunch of pictures of that elephant," said Erick Alexander. "So, I hope they find it. That makes me sad."

Management says Ellie wasn't permanently fixed to the ground because it's against city code.

They say if Ellie is safely returned, they won't press charges. If they have to go find her, it may be a different story.

If you have any information, call Oklahoma City police.

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