Yoga isn't just for humans – it's for elephants too!
Houston, Texas - Exercise is good for every animal – even elephants. All 12 pachyderms at the Houston Zoo do special "yoga sessions" daily.
A 40-year-old elephant named Tess has taken her yoga practice to the next level. She can do a handstand! Meaning Tess can hold all 6,500 pounds of her beautiful bulk on her front hooves.
This flashy move has even become part of Tess' daily yoga routine, per the New York Post. Though Tess is the most flexible of the Houston Zoo's elephant herd, and the only one able to do a handstand, she isn't the only elephant working on their flexibility.
According to Kristen Windle, the zoo's elephant manager, all the zoo's pachyderms have daily yoga-like sessions with their care team. These sessions, which are between 30 seconds and five minutes, help the animals keep their joints flexible. Some older elephants, like Tess, do two yoga sessions a day.
The workouts are tailored to the individual elephants and their needs. For example, the zoo's oldest elephant 54-year-old Methai, does different moves than Tess, as he moves more slowly and suffers from arthritis.
This kind of exercise is great for elephants in captivity, and the keepers hope it will aid in the animals' longevity.
According to animal rights organization PETA, while elephants have a life expectancy of 60 to 70 years in the wild, they often only live to half that age in captivity.
Yoga is voluntary, but elephants that participate get treats
Elephant yoga at the Houston Zoo doesn't just help the animals stay limber, it also allows keepers to evaluate the animals' health. "We’ll get a good look at their skin, we’ll check their feet, we’ll check their mouth ... But we’re also looking at their range of motion and how they’re moving so we can know exactly what they’re feeling by these training sets," Windle said.
She further explained the elephants don't do crazy human yoga moves, "The things that we’re doing are part of natural movements that they do." She added that any elephant not interested in a workout can opt-out by simply walking away. It's a voluntary practice.
But the elephants that do their exercises get a special treat, like fruit or bread.
Elephant yoga is not designed to entertain zoo visitors, but those that see the elephants stretching do enjoy it.
Cover photo: Collage: Screenshots/TikTok/chroncom