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Gorillas Go Green: Apes Shed Pounds While Doubling Calories on Leafy Diet

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  • Gorillas Go Green: Apes Shed Pounds While Doubling Calories on Leafy Diet

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0217091130.htm

    Gorillas Go Green: Apes Shed Pounds While Doubling Calories on Leafy Diet

    In the U.S., even zoo gorillas need to switch to a heart-healthy diet.

    "A lot are dying of heart disease, we believe like humans," said Elena Hoellein Less, a PhD candidate in biology at Case Western Reserve University.

    In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of male Western lowland gorillas -- the only species of gorillas in North American zoos.

    After Brooks, a 21-year-old gorilla, died of heart failure at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in 2005, Less and other researchers here took a hard look at how the animals' lifestyle affects their health. Less now leads an effort to counter the killer disease by returning the primates to a diet more akin to what they'd eat in the wild.

    Gone is the bucketful of vitamin-rich, high-sugar and high-starch foods that zoos used for decades to ensure gorillas received enough nutrients.

    Instead, Cleveland's Mokolo and Bebac receive a wheelbarrow of romaine lettuce, dandelion greens and endive they gently tear and bite, alfalfa hay they nimbly pick through, young tree branches they strip of succulent bark and leaves, green beans, a handful of flax seeds, and three Centrum Silver multivitamins tucked inside half a smashed banana.

    Instead of spending about a quarter of their day eating the old diet, the pair now spends 50 to 60 percent of each day feeding and foraging, about the same amount of time wild gorillas forage.

    Although they take in twice as many calories on the new diet, after a year, the big boys of the primate house have dropped nearly 65 pounds each and weigh in the range of their wild relatives.

    "We're beginning to understand we may have a lot of overweight gorillas," said Kristen Lukas, an adjunct assistant professor of biology at Case Western Reserve and chair of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP®) for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The organization serves 52 zoos in the U.S. and Canada in a coordinated effort to improve the health and survival of the nearly 350 gorillas in the population.

    "And, we're just recognizing that surviving on a diet and being healthy on a diet are different," said Lukas, who is also curator of Conservation and Science at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. "We've raised our standards and are asking, are they in the best condition to not only survive but to thrive?"

    Less is one of five Case Western Reserve graduate students in the biology program who are involved in research linking behavior to the health of zoo animals, a unique program among U.S. zoos, Lukas said.

    At the same time Less has been monitoring the diet and resulting habits of the gorillas, she's been measuring the amount of fat on the backs of the apes and attempting to discern what benefits against heart disease they may be gaining with the new diet, using biomarkers of insulin resistance and inflammation as guides.

    She's also creating a body mass index for the animals, similar to that used to gauge healthy weight and makeup in humans.

    Though these zoo gorillas now weigh about the same or sometimes more than their wild counterparts, "we believe those in the wild have more muscle," Less said.

    If the continuing study finds that to be true, she said, "The next step is exercising gorillas in zoos."

    In addition to dropping weight and becoming active feeders, the gorillas also dropped a habit seen only in zoo gorillas, a habit that literally turned patrons away. Whether to taste sugar again and again, or to take up time not spent foraging or because large amounts of sugar and starch didn't sit well; on the old diet, the gorillas would repeatedly spit up and then eat what they'd just spit up.

    "That behavior has been completely eliminated with the new diet," Less said.

    Colleagues at other Gorilla SSP® institutions have allowed versions of the new diet to be tested at zoos in Columbus, North Carolina, Toronto and Seattle. Results are expected later this year.

    Should the larger sample prove the diet provides health benefits, the Gorilla SSP® may endorse high-fiber foraging at zoos nationally and internationally, Lukas said.

    A video of the gorilla research is available on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9A74LvPxU8
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    The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Case Western Reserve University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

  • #2
    I just watched the video. Astonishing... for years they had gorillas vomiting and eating their vomit up to four times an hour, and plucking and eating their own hair, and they didn't think that gosh, maybe their scientifically-designed diet might not be quite so ideal after all?

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    • #3
      Great piece. Perhaps the most notable quote from the article:

      "Although they take in twice as many calories on the new diet, after a year, the big boys of the primate house have dropped nearly 65 pounds each and weigh in the range of their wild relatives."

      Here we have animals in a controlled setting eating a controlled diet - better than we'll ever get from human research diet - and it clearly demonstrates that weight regulation is a whole lot more complex than "calories in calories out". To those who can't seem to divorce themselves from this idea, it would appear that zoos are immune to the laws of thermodynamics
      sigpic

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      • #4
        This is depressing. I thought we cared for zoo animals better than that in this day and age.


        Robin's Roost
        My Primal Journal

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        • #5
          Idiots

          I just can't think of anything more eloquent right now
          5'4" 39yo mother to five sweeties & married to their AMAZING DaddyGrok
          Current Weight: 175lb__________________________________Goal: 135lb
          Deadlift: 240lb________________________________________Back Squat: 165lb
          Bench: 130lb__________________________________________Pre ss: 85lb
          ***Winning a 20-year war against binge eating disorder***

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          • #6
            Aside from the obvious conclusion that body weight regulation is a negative feedback loop that evolution came up with to not have to choose between obesity or starvation, perhaps this could serve as an example of what happens when you feed an animal food that it wasn't biologically build to eat. Now if we can accept that and somehow get people to accept that humans are animals and not exempt from the rule...

            That is wishful thinking, Stabby. Bad Stabby! Get out of that tree and put down that knife.
            Stabbing conventional wisdom in its face.

            Anyone who wants to talk nutrition should PM me!

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            • #7
              Poor gorillas. Men thought they could outsmart nature in creating the perfect scientific diet for these animals. Think again, man. Think again!
              Positively Radical — Pigeonholes are for Pigeons!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Stabby View Post
                Aside from the obvious conclusion that body weight regulation is a negative feedback loop that evolution came up with to not have to choose between obesity or starvation, perhaps this could serve as an example of what happens when you feed an animal food that it wasn't biologically build to eat. Now if we can accept that and somehow get people to accept that humans are animals and not exempt from the rule...

                That is wishful thinking, Stabby. Bad Stabby! Get out of that tree and put down that knife.
                Can I just say..welcome back! So happy to see my future raccoon baby daddy again

                Carry on...
                Calm the f**k down.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Herbwifemama View Post
                  This is depressing. I thought we cared for zoo animals better than that in this day and age.
                  It sounds like we're learning... just soooooooo slowly.

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                  • #10
                    good lord, please start a journal, or a website, or something.

                    Originally posted by Stabby View Post
                    Aside from the obvious conclusion that body weight regulation is a negative feedback loop that evolution came up with to not have to choose between obesity or starvation, perhaps this could serve as an example of what happens when you feed an animal food that it wasn't biologically build to eat. Now if we can accept that and somehow get people to accept that humans are animals and not exempt from the rule...

                    That is wishful thinking, Stabby. Bad Stabby! Get out of that tree and put down that knife.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hey! No scaring away the raccoons. I'd much rather listen to him than you. :P

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        This reminds me of that stupid PROFESSOR that went on the all-donut and Twinkie diet to show his college class that weight loss is SIMPLY CALORIES IN-CALORIES OUT. He lost something like 27 pounds. It was one of the most dangerous things I've ever seen and he's a PROFESSOR teaching kids that!

                        First off, I can only imagine how much of that weight loss is from displacing muscle for fat. I wouldn't be surprised if the brilliant professor's body fat is higher, resulting in lower weight. Second, if you eat a high carb, high calorie SAD, reducing total calories will initially trip up your metabolism and cause some weight loss. That's why crash diets initially show results but then fail miserably. It's amazing that most doctors, professors and dietitians don't have a clue about proper nutrition, yet they're teaching our young minds how to eat and we wonder why America's fat and unhealthy?

                        This is a brilliant article. Calories in-calories out is as antiquated and incorrect as the flat-Earth theory. It's so much more than monitoring your calories. It's about hormone regulation, blood sugar control, quality fats and adequate amino acid consumption paired with an active lifestyle. THAT is what authorities should be teaching our youth. Instead, we're taught growing older means decades on statins and living with Type II Diabetes. It makes me so mad I could scream.
                        Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

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