CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom — How are those New Year’s weight loss resolutions going so far? For people who need more motivation to cut the fat out of their diet, a new study finds your average elephant is probably in better shape than most humans. An international research team says, despite their massive size, zoo elephants actually carry less body fat than the average person.
The team, led by Daniella Chusyd of Indiana University, wanted to understand why Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) living in zoos had lower birth rates than their peers in the wild. Researchers say it was thought these captive elephants were overweight and this was leading to a fertility crisis among the zoo population. Such a connection is similar to what health experts see happening in overweight people.
“I was interested in discovering whether methods predominantly used in human health research could help us learn more about elephants,” says Chusyd, formerly from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), in a media release. “Obesity is not clearly defined in humans, let alone elephants.”
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