Houston Zoo Puts Pregnant Elephant On Jenny-Craig-Grade Diet Plan

A certain 33-year-old pregnant elephant at the Houston Zoo sure likes to grub! She’s consumed so much, in fact, that she’s ballooned to 7,700 pounds, which according to Reuters makes her about 6 percent overweight. As a result, zookeepers at the Houston Zoo have decided put this poor elephant lady (officially known as Tess) on a diet.

If this seems like too much to you, then heed the words of Houston Zoo large-animal curator Daryl Hoffman:

“Part of the reason we’re doing it now is to get ahead of the game. When she gets closer to delivery, she’ll move less and be less active.”

If Tess were allowed to continue snacking so haphazardly (we personally blame McDonald’s!), the nine-months pregnant lass would have trouble giving birth, which is a big no-no.

So what sort of diet do the zookeepers at Houston Zoo have in store for her? First and foremost, she’ll be eating only low-calorie foods. Second, she’ll be taken on a brisk 2-mile walk every morning. Last but not least, she’ll be put through what the zoo’s staff members refer to as ‘elephant yoga’ – an exercise that definitely involves leg exercises and maybe involves tight pants (shrugs).

The good news is that this is nothing new for Tess. She endured the exact same workout routine 3 years ago, right before she gave birth to her calf Tupelo. She also has two other little elephant kiddies — Baylor (also 3) and Duncan (who was just born this past February).

What’s troubling about this story is the fact that elephant obesity is on the rise. It just so happens that obesity makes birthing a lot more difficult. According to the Houston Chronicle, expectant calves sometimes get stuck inside their mother, which of course inevitably leads to death.

Here’s another troubling fact: the Houston Zoo has suffered a whopping 14 elephant baby losses in the past 25 years. While some were caused by endotheliotopic herpesvirus, a large number of the deaths have been linked directly to elephant obesity.

It doesn’t help that it’s extraordinarily difficult for a zoo to identify an obese elephant, as elephants in general tend to be rather “big boned,” if you catch our drift. The situation is so dire that for the past decade, the ratio of elephant births to elephant deaths has been only 3 to 5. If the trend does not change, it could make the elephant population in America “demographically nonviable in about 50 years.”

Thankfully, at least Tess has people who care about her health! Speaking of which, if you would like to see her hanging out with Tupelo at the Houston Zoo, check the video below:

Image via [Google Images]