Elephant Treadmill

Could Be Tons of Fun

* If you're a slightly overweight elephant facing an icy Alaskan winter where you can't get out and exercise much, what should you do?

Work out on a treadmill, of course.

Zookeepers at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage are installing a 16,000-pound treadmill, believed to be the first ever made for an elephant. The company that made it studied treadmills used by camels and horses.

Maggie, the zoo's only elephant, is expected to begin her workout program when the treadmill is installed and her habitat renovated in about two months.

Animal-rights activists worry that the frigid winters are too hard on Maggie, a 23-year-old African elephant. The zoo has been working to make her comfortable, enlarging her enclosure and heating the floor.

The treadmill is the latest attempt to slim down Maggie. The zoo changed her diet and tried to get her to exercise by hiding food in baskets and other places that require some work to reach.

So far the program seems to be working. Maggie has lost about 1,000 pounds in the last year and now weighs just more than 8,000 pounds!

Tread on me: The Alaska Zoo ordered exercise equipment for its elephant.