Kristen Lukas, Curator for Conservation & Science at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Putting Her Gorillas on a Diet
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A plant-strong cardiologist just sent me this "must read" story about the interesting diet changes going on at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo--and I decided to pass it right on! Looks like Cleveland, Ohio is at the cutting edge of plant-based diet turn-arounds!
Those lucky Cleveland Zoo gorillas! What good fortune to be under the watchful eye of curator Kristen Lukas, PhD, who is also an adjunct assistant professor of biology at Case Western Reserve University.
Turns out, heart disease is the leading cause of death in adult male gorillas living in zoos. And the Cleveland gorillas were no exception--they, too, were recently diagnosed with heart disease. Dr. Lukas decided to do something about it and the results were astounding. Their processed food diet was high in sugar and starch and low in real vegetables.
After a year on their new high-vegetable-low-processed-food diet the gorillas are svelte, healthy, eating twice the amount they had been eating before their plant-based switch--and exhibiting positive behavioral changes, as well!
Nutrient dense plant-based is certainly working for me, too! Great food, as much as I want to eat, I'm almost back to my pre-pregnancy weight--and my oldest is 31 years old!
Here's the story from Hugh Collins. Don't miss the video--just 2 1/2 minutes and well worth your time:
Cleveland Gorillas Go Veggie to Shed a Few Pounds
"It's not just humans who have to watch their figure.
Authorities at Cleveland Metroparks zoo have put Mokolo and Bebac, their two adult gorillas, on a new diet in a bid to get the apes in better shape.
Gone are the starchy, processed food pellets that the pair used to munch on. Instead, the gorillas are scarfing down wheelbarrows full of vegetables, including green beans, dandelion greens and endive.
They're swallowing more than 10 pounds of vegetables a day.
The zookeepers aren't just worried about the gorillas looking their best for visitors. An ultrasound had shown that both of the apes were suffering from heart disease.
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"We're beginning to understand we may have a lot of overweight gorillas," said Kristen Lukas, a curator for conservation and science at the zoo and an adjunct assistant professor of biology at Case Western Reserve University. "We've raised our standards and are asking, Are they in the best condition to not only survive but to thrive?"
A year into the diet and the results are encouraging. Each of the massive beasts has shed almost 65 pounds, despite the fact that they're now ingesting twice as many calories a day.
The veggie-heavy diet requires the animals to spend a lot more time eating each day, but they appear to be enjoying it.
"They were a little disappointed at first that their diet was lower in sugar," said Elena Hoellein Less, a Ph.D. student at Case Western. "Just like humans, they really like their sugar."
Disease, poaching and the loss of habitats have all squeezed gorilla populations in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The animals reproduce at quite a slow rate, meaning that an individual population of gorillas can be decimated quite quickly. This makes it all the more important to improve the health of those gorillas living in captivity.
The new diet in Cleveland has helped get Mokolo and Bebac back to the weight of their counterparts in the wild. It has also helped reduce behavior that gorillas don't normally display in the wild, such as plucking out and eating their own fur.
Zoos in cities including Toronto and Seattle are now testing out the diet.
For researchers like Less, the gorilla health drive continues. "The next step is exercising gorillas in zoos," she said.