Last week’s EleFACT Friday was all about busting the myth about pink elephants, and this week we’re back to challenge another widely held belief. Movies and tv shows have taught us that elephants’ snack of choice is peanuts, to the point that many people associate them with each other. But do peanuts actually exist in an elephant’s diet, and are they good for them?
The short answer: nope! As we humans may know, peanuts are fairly high in protein – so protein-packed that they shouldn’t exist in elephants’ diets. Research has been done in regards to how different foods affect elephant’s metabolic health and the science shows that they benefit from a low protein, high fiber diet. This is part of the reason why the elephants in the sanctuary (outside of their natural grazing) receive some fruits and vegetables, but mostly hay. Aside from the fact that peanuts don’t grow in the wild environments where elephants live, it’s just not a healthy option for the animals. Strangely enough, the shells of peanuts would be healthier than the legumes inside (although still not recommended.)
Better snacks for elephants, in addition to fruit and hay, would be grasses, shrubs, some grains, bamboo, or any natural greens they can find in the wild.
This video shows Mara very adeptly selecting just which pieces of hay she wants to eat.