Benefits of a Veggielicious Diet on Eat Your Vegetables Day!

June 17, 2020 | By Mahima Sharma

We have all probably grown up with our parents having to chase us to finish that lone piece of broccoli or the bits of carrots that lay abandoned in our plates. Even at our schools, teachers would give us countless lessons on the importance of eating vegetables to gain strength and immunity. This holds true not only for us but also for the well-being of our elephants!

Hence, on the healthy occasion of Eat Your Vegetables Day, we are going to walk you through some of the vegetables that the elephants under our care love to eat and how they benefit them!

Mia (L) and Rhea (R) enjoy a delicious spread of pumpkins, corns and gourds! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Beetroots – Asha’s heart positively “beets” for beetroots. She enjoys munching it down swiftly every time it is filled in her cage-feeder enrichment. Asha is never known to be a fussy eater and eats all vegetables with similar gusto but she is sure, to begin with her favourite beetroot. They are rich in potassium and improve blood flow, along with complementing muscle strength. Just like Asha, Maya and Phoolkali also love beetroots and gulp them down whole-heartedly.

Jackfruits – Ripe jackfruits are the favourite vegetable for elephants in the wild as the smell of the ripening vegetable attracts them and the slightly rough bark of the jackfruit tree immensely helps in taking care of that itch on the elephant’s back where the trunk fails to reach! For elephants, jackfruits are added to their diet due to their high nutritional value that acts as a natural remedy for abdominal ailments and is high in fibre. Bhola loves to munch on jackfruits, especially when he is taking a leisurely splash in the pool in his enclosure!

Pumpkins – High in moisture and fibre, pumpkins double as a vegetable and can be toyed around by our elephants as an additional enrichment – whichever way they may feel like! Pumpkins are an excellent remedy for joint pains that are recurrent in cases of severe osteoarthritis. A serious condition that all our pachyderms are ailing from, due to their experience in walking unnatural surfaces and tied to concrete with heavy chains. The seeds of pumpkin have oil that hugely helps in relieving inflammation in the joints because of arthritis.

Laxmi’s cage-feeder enrichment filled with sweet potatoes and lettuce, a part of the diet specially curated for her. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Shirina Sawhney]
Lettuce leaves are highly fibrous and immensely rich in potassium that help in maintaining healthy joints! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Shirina Sawhney]

Cabbage – While most of our elephants enjoy the subtle crunch of cabbage, there is one that runs in the opposite direction at the sight of green, leafy vegetables! Of course, when you are fed about 200 burgers and sweets EVERY DAY, why would you ever settle for greens? However, leafy vegetables are an integral part of Laxmi’s diet to manage her weight. Laxmi was severely overweight that put her joints under a serious threat, which is why it was important that her diet has more of greens which are rich in fibres that reduce the presence of toxins that are the glaring causes of arthritis.

Phoolkali munching on a pumpkin as she returns from her evening walk! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Bottle Gourds – An important source of hydration for our elephants in the harsh summers that we experience in Northern India. Rich in Vitamin C and K as well as calcium, bottle gourds are important for our elephants due to their high content of nutrition. The older elephants love munching it down but our youngest pachyderms Coconut and Peanut are not the biggest gourd fans. Which is why our keepers have to strategically supplement it with another vegetable that they do eat! As they wait with bated breath, these elephants gulp it down quickly – lifting their trunk for peanuts or dates as a reward for this bravado!

Here’s wishing everyone good health on the occasion of Eat Your Vegetables Day and to sincerely hoping that we focus on building our immunity to fight COVID-19 infection to emerge victoriously!

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