Fitness trackers aim to improve the health and well-being of the zoo’s elephants.
Fitness tracking is very popular now. If you want, you can monitor your heart rate, calculate your footsteps and consume more calories, even to monitor your sleep patterns, all of which can be used for your wrist or equipment in the pocket. But that is if you are human. The Fresno in Fresno, California chafee zoo is for fitness tracking, a huge new level – this is to protect the zoo elephants part of the health and happiness of national projects.
Take Sha, for example, a few years ago, an Asian elephant in Fresno was a little overweight. So she started a new exercise program and put the beans in apples and carrots. Sha is doing very well now; About 6,000 pounds.
She participated in a data-rich fitness tracking program called the elephant welfare program, which aims to improve the happiness of the American elephant community. The watchmen in the national program include more than 40 zoos, keeping detailed log of animals’ activities and activities, and then receiving a proposal on how to improve the environment and daily life of the elephants.
“We get a much simpler body score,” said Vernon Presley, chief elephant curator at Fresno zoo. “How good our elephants are, how much time we spend with elephants.”
Vernon Presley is the chief elephant curator at Fresno zoo. Presley said the software can provide the elephant caregivers with a large number of data about the elephant health and daily activities, this helps the zoo staff to create more interesting social environment for the animals.
In the past, zoo elephants have suffered more from obesity, foot problems and reproductive complications than wild animals.
“We really think this is what they call the lifestyle change in the elephant community,” Presley said. “We must now devote more resources to monitoring our elephant behaviour and how we care for them.”
The initiative stems from a series of scientific studies published last summer in the journal PLOS One. Cheryl Meehan, a veterinary epidemiologist at AWARE Institute, the animal welfare advisory group, said she and her collaborators examined more than 250 elephants in the study.
Evidence-based animal care sounds obvious, but there are few broad data on animal populations. Past studies have tended to examine only a small number of elephants, or only a handful of welfare indicators.
By contrast, Meehan and her colleagues “collected blood and stool samples, veterinary reports, hours and hours of video,” she said. “We looked at GPS data to measure the daily walking distance, and we used photographs to assess the animal’s condition.”
In their findings, the team found that feet and joints were healthier in the walls of soft or sandy soil. That makes sense. Even more surprisingly, the larger fence did not seem to fit the healthier elephants. But isolation is a problem. One of the most important findings: the more social participation, the healthier the animals. Meehan says that socializing seems to be resistant to repetitive behaviors – such as swinging or swinging back and forth, which can be a sign of anxiety.
Meehan said: “to spend more time in the larger social group of elephants – especially those involving young elephants elephants – and spend less time elephants are less likely to participate in these behaviors.”
To increase the health and well-being of captive elephants, all this data has come together to form the heart of the elephant welfare initiative: a software system that provides real-time elephant care feedback.
Shaunzi, an Asian elephant at the central valley zoo in California, is close to feeding a network of feeding structures, including shaking barrels, chains and other items. Studies have shown that captive females have to deal with tasks to get a diet, which often leads to higher reproductive success.
Kerry klein/dale public radio.
Greg Vicino, deputy director of elephants at the San Diego zoo, said the software dashboard was designed to allow breeders to easily monitor animal health and activity.
“Their Settings look a bit like a speedometer,” Vicino said. “Or you can make it look like a bar chart, it can tell you where you are now, and you’re standing next to the national average, and you can set goals for yourself.” For example, there isn’t enough social activity today? Make sure you raise these opportunities tomorrow.
Elephant keepers are already learning and adjusting. For example, research shows that one way to make female elephants healthier is to challenge them with a puzzle – complete the task – to get their food. Completing these challenges is associated with better reproductive health.
So at Fresno zoo, at breakfast, the shark faces a tangled chain and a network of dangling objects. She put her torso in a bucket over her head and shook it until it came down.
While there is evidence that these conventional shifts seem to help, not everyone is excited about the elephant initiative and its parent research. The PLOS One study confirms that elephants do not belong in zoos, according to Kate Dylewsky, a program assistant at Born Free USA, an animal rights group.
“They show that the elephants in the zoo only walk 5.3 kilometers a day, and in the wild, African elephants can walk more than 50 miles a day,” Dylewsky said. “There were 25 percent problems, 67 percent of the foot problem, and then a series of reproductive problems.”
Still, Presley said at Fresno chaffee zoo that zookeepers are learning from their studies to take care of their elephants. They helped Sha and Asian elephants lose about 2,000 pounds each. They are changing the feeding habits of animals.
They know that elephants benefit from more social opportunities. Presley said they were looking for a new home for camphor and cara, so they could mix with a larger herd.
As for Fresno’s African elephants, mosey, Amy and miss Bates, the zoo hopes they will soon be able to create their own small generations of herds.