Just like humans, obese elephants are at risk of cardiac disease and arthritis, and they also have decreased reproduction capacity, a major barrier for sustaining zoo elephant populations. Wildlife endocrinologist Kari Morfeld developed a body condition scoring system for elephants that evaluates their pelvic bone, backbone and rib cage. With simple husbandry changes, Morfeld believes zoos can reduce elephant obesity and increase reproductive capacity, and she says other captive species can benefit from the model.

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