Of course, the idea behind giving animals large enclosures, like in a safari park setting, is that they will use them to exhibit natural behaviors... most of which involve moving. Animals in the wild, however, don't generally roam for fun. They do it to find food, water, shelter, and mates, as well as avoid danger. In a zoo environment, those needs are condensed, and, not surprisingly, animals don't move and exercise as much.
Musi, an African elephant, is one of Fresno Chaffee Zoo's five elephants enrolled in the Elephant Welfare Initiative. Courtesy of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo hide caption toggle caption Courtesy of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo
This innovative study will help increase the health of elephants in zoos by helping to answer the questions of how much exercise do they need, and how much are they getting. Many zoos are already developing - or have recently renovated - their elephant exhibits to improve exercise options. Changes include the addition of deep pools and the construction of walking trails to get the big beasts moving.
As the research seems to suggest, a fit elephant is a happy elephant... and happy elephants make more elephant babies. And as perilous as the situation has become for elephants in the wild, that can only be a good thing.