- Associated Press - Friday, April 22, 2016

HANNA CITY, Ill. (AP) - Wildlife Prairie Park is seeing promising results with the weight loss plans it implemented for many of the animals living at the facility outside of Peoria.

A weigh-in was held Thursday at the park in Hanna City for all of its non-herd animals on exhibit, including black bears, badgers, bobcats and cougars. The results proved the effectiveness of the animals’ diets and exercise regimes, which were introduced to the animals after veterinary evaluations a year ago revealed the sedentary lifestyle of captivity had taken its toll on them, the (Peoria) Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1VpZJ81 ) reported.

The park’s resident male black bear, TR, weighed in at 600 pounds, down from 756 pounds a year ago. His female counterpart, Molly, went from 442 pounds last year to 392 pounds.

To help the bears lose weight, zoo staff gave them less fruit and more vegetables, and split up their meals into smaller servings throughout the enclosure to encourage foraging, instead of putting them in the same place every day.

Food for other animals, such as the bobcats and raccoons, was hidden in their pens so they had to find it or figure out how to retrieve it.

The badgers, Fred and Ethel, lost 5 and 10 pounds, respectively, while the bobcats, Benny and Misha, each dropped about 10 pounds. The two female cougars only lost 7 and 2 pounds each, but zoo officials believe they’re moving in the right direction.

“Their body condition just looks so much better. Their activity level has gone way up, so it’s just been great for them,” animal curator Adrienne Bauer said.

She said the animals are more likely to be seen playing, searching for food and climbing in their enclosures since they began their new, healthy lifestyles.

“We’ve had a major increase in the last year of guests saying that this is the most active they’ve ever seen these animals and it probably is the most active some of these guys have been in the last few years,” Bauer said.


Information from: Journal Star, https://pjstar.com

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