Even the elephants in this country can’t escape obesity.
A study published last October found that about 75 percent of elephants in U.S. zoos are overweight. Now a Californian foundation wants to create a farm where the fat animals can diet and get in shape.
Plans are already underway for a 4,900-acre preserve in Northern California that would get the African elephants healthy and breeding. Part farm, part laboratory, the preserve would start with up to five elephants, a "near-wild" herd the developers hope to triple in two decades.
The overweight elephants would be fed fiber-rich plants and be allowed to roam a large territory, just like their wild relatives. The initiative is part of a broader trend to provide more space to captive animals.
"The general public are familiar with Disney and the tale of Dumbo," Deborah Olson, executive director of the International Elephant Foundation, told The Wall Street Journal. "They're drawn as round creatures, so the general public has this conception that they're round instead of what they truly look like in the wild."
For now, the large mammals must cope with the zoo’s confined space. County officials in Northern California haven’t yet approved the project.