Zoo’s armadillo on New Year weight loss challenge

Gretel the armadillo at Drusillas Park SUS-161101-114841001
Gretel the armadillo at Drusillas Park SUS-161101-114841001

It’s not just us humans that need to diet and detox after Christmas; sometimes our four-legged friends need to watch their waistlines too.

At Drusillas Park in East Sussex, head keeper Mark Kenward is responsible for monitoring animal diets and making adjustments to their food plans where necessary.

One rotund resident in particular has recently attracted his attention; Gretel, the big hairy armadillo, appears to have eaten more than her festive fair share and has been put on a New Year health kick.

In the wild, armadillos are found in the grasslands, forests and savannahs of South America. They have a hard shell made up of bone and tough tissue which is not found among any other mammal and their name literally means ‘little armoured one’ in Spanish.

Gretel arrived at Drusillas back in February from Askham Bryan College and will be two in March. She is and incredibly friendly and since her arrival, she has been introduced to numerous school children visiting the zoo.

Nevertheless, she has a tendency to put on weight easily and despite eating a varied diet of locusts, mealworms, wax worms, eggs, rice and vegetables, she can’t quite beat the bulge.

Keepers have therefore filled her diet with some delicious fat fighting food in order to make a difference.

In addition to altering her food plan, drill master Kenward has also put Gretel on a new exercise regime. Supervised by the volunteers at the Park, Gretel works out in the Discovery Centre every day in an effort to shift those persistent pounds.

Mark said: “Gretel loves her food but we have noticed that she does put on weight easily. She is making great progress so far but she still has about 500g to lose.

“We have therefore made a few adjustments to her eating plan to ensure she remains happy and healthy.

“We are not unduly concerned at the moment but we will be keeping a close eye on her over the coming months.

“With a new eating plan, combined with a little more exercise, we are confident she will not be biting off more than she should chew in the future.”

Located just off the A27 in Alfriston, Drusillas Park is open daily from 10am. For more information, call 01323 874100 or visit www.drusillas.co.uk.

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