Posted by: 4pack | January 2, 2009

“Ideal Weight” Update: Zoo Elephants Set Example For Dieters With High Fiber Basics

LET’S GET OUT NEW YEAR OFF TO A GOOD START BY RECOGNIZING THAT ELEPHANTS ARE CAPABLE OF LOSING WEIGHT…IN A ZOO…SORT OF LIKE OGGIES ON THE COUCH WITH A HUGE BAG OF CHIPS AND SODAS….

“But regardless of whether or not they are being put through drills or laps, the fact of the matter is that in zoos elephants have nothing to do for much of the day,” she said.

Zoo officials say that captive elephants teach people about the plight of their wild brethren, and that the diet is part of ongoing efforts to improve conditions.

The San Diego Zoo’s weight-loss plan is a return to the basics. The diet is high in . . . hay…”

 

Elephants at the zoo and Wild Animal Park have lost 11,314 pounds, thanks to a nutrition and exercise plan started by their trainers in 2000. That’s nearly 5.7 tons among seven animals.

 

 

http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/jan/01/1n1elephants002021-san-diegos-elephants-no-longer-/

The biggest loser was Devi, an Asian elephant who has dropped nearly a ton since 2000. Now she tips the scales at 6,750 pounds.

Keepers say the roly-poly elephants typically seen at zoos are actually unhealthy. Visitors are supposed to be able to make out the muscles beneath that wrinkly gray skin.

“Elephants aren’t necessarily always big, round animals,” said Jeff Andrews, elephant manager for the zoo and Wild Animal Park.

“What most people recognize as what an elephant should look like is an overweight zoo elephant. Due to improved science and husbandry, we’ve learned what appropriate weights should be.”

Losing weight is an industrywide trend as zoos try to increase their success with elephant breeding and improve their health.

“Exercycles are next,” joked John Lehnhardt, vice chairman of the zoo industry’s elephant committee and animal operations director at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida.

“It kind of mirrors what goes on in the human world. We’re recognizing that being lighter and getting more exercise is better for your health,” he said.

Animal rights activists have long complained that a zoo elephant’s life is not healthy. But they don’t cheer news of the elephant diet plan, either.

“We’re certainly glad that the zoo recognizes that the elephants aren’t in good physical shape,” said Lisa Wathne, a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

“But regardless of whether or not they are being put through drills or laps, the fact of the matter is that in zoos elephants have nothing to do for much of the day,” she said.

Zoo officials say that captive elephants teach people about the plight of their wild brethren, and that the diet is part of ongoing efforts to improve conditions.

The San Diego Zoo’s weight-loss plan is a return to the basics. The diet is high in . . . hay.

Gone are the treats elephants used to enjoy: Loaves of bread, corn, the occasional jelly bean.

They still eat a small amount of fruits and vegetables. But that’s only because – like rationing candy bars to a chocoholic – zookeepers didn’t want to deprive them of something they loved. Nobody wants a stampede of cranky, baguette-craving elephants.

Elephants now get several small meals, instead of three big ones. And zookeepers scatter the food around the yard so animals have to work to find it.

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