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things that just are

Monday, March 28, 2005

Walking It Off

From the WSJ Evening Wrap:
Weighing in at a Rubenesque 9,200 pounds, Maggie, an African elephant at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, could stand to lose a few hundred pounds. To that end, zookeepers have commissioned a massive treadmill, to be built free of charge by Conveyer Engineering, an Idaho mining-equipment maker. The treadmill will be 20 feet long and five feet wide and will have guard rails on either side of it. "Our biggest concern is that we break the elephant," a Conveyer Engineering official said.

Animal-rights activists People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, however, believe Maggie is still getting a raw deal. They note that, in the wild, African elephants walk some 16 hours a day, foraging for sustenance. What's more, African elephants are accustomed to climates warmer than Alaska's, and Maggie's been alone since her buddy Annabelle died in 1997. PETA wants Maggie moved to a wildlife sanctuary or a warmer climate.

Though other zoos now want elephant treadmills of their own, the controversy will keep Conveyer Engineering out of the business for good. "When we're done with this one, we're going to turn the plans over to EquiGym," a Kentucky company that makes treadmills for horses, a Conveyer Engineering spokesman said. "Mining is controversial enough."


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