Wanted: Treadmill for an Elephant

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Maggie, the 22 year-old African elephant, has been a resident of the Alaska Zoo since 1983. The Zoo recently decided that Maggie needs nicer quarters, more attention, and a treadmill. She weighs 9,100 pounds and does not get enough exercise, especially during the long Alaskan winter months.

Alaska Zoo officials debated this past year about whether to keep Maggie. She has been the only elephant in the zoo since 1997 when her companion of 14 years, Annabelle, died. Some experts believe that in order to be healthy and happy a zoo elephant should be part of a small herd of 3 or more.

The Zoo's elephant committee decided that the risks of moving Maggie out of state and of totally changing her life were too great. Besides, she seems happy here and she has a familiar "herd" in Alaska already. Numerous Zoo officials, animal handlers and exercisers, and familiar frequent visitors spend many hours a day with her.

In order to increase Maggie's comfort and health, zoo officials decided to give Maggie's living quarters softer flooring and better ventilation. Zoo staff will also increase the number of hours that they spend with Maggie from 8 hours daily to 12 to 16 hours daily.

Finally, the Zoo will help Maggie get more year-round exercise and lose weight. They will purchase an elephant-sized treadmill. However, nobody has ever designed or built an elephant treadmill. Designs are being developed now, but if you have any good ideas bring them forward.

Then stand in line behind me to watch Maggie work out on her new treadmill.

Can you imagine the elephant-sized headphones and iPod that she'll need?


Garry Gamber is a public school teacher and entrepreneur. He writes articles about real estate, health and nutrition, and internet dating services. He is the owner of and

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