Overweight sacred elephants put on diet at Indian temple
Obese elephants in the Tamil Nadu region of India are now having to watch what they eat and do more exercise, as they have become dangerously overweight, Daily Mail reports.
Almost all of the temple elephants in the region, which is the far south of the country, are bigger than is deemed healthy, due to a combination of little or no exercise and over-feeding. The elephants are chained to the temple’s gates for most of the day, making any physical activity difficult. The problem is compounded further as pilgrims to the temples want to feed the giant animals in the belief it will bring them good fortune if they do.
Such is the importance pilgrims place on elephants in India they are often fed treats such as sweets and rice rather than the more varied diet including bamboo, grass and fruits they would normally eat in their natural habitat. Temple officials are now looking to change the diets of their elephants on the advice of veterinary surgeons, the Mail reports.
“The female temple elephant - 15 year-old Parvathi - is overweight by 500kg (80 stone) and efforts are on to reduce it,” said Pon Jayaraman, executive officer of the Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple is quoted as telling the BBC. Wild elephants will naturally undergo far more exercise than those in captivity, often over demanding terrain. Temple officials have said the elephants are taken for walks of at least 5km each day based on vet advice. daily times monitor