The Alaska Zoo should document with videotape elephant Maggie's reaction to the treadmill the first time she steps on it and the floor begins to move. The media should be there to bear witness. The pachyderm treadmill is a never-before-tried experiment with Maggie as the test animal. There are major risks.
Adult elephants weigh so much that a fall can result in injury. Perhaps because of this, elephants are especially careful where they put their feet. Stepping on a moving surface may be too much for Maggie.
Elephants also have specialized feet that enable them to detect the faint seismic vibrations made by other elephants as they communicate with each other over distances of several miles. No one knows how Maggie will respond to the seismic vibrations of the treadmill's attached hydraulic motor as she stands on the treadmill's surface. She might try to bolt or react violently.
Sadly, even if the experiment works, it won't address Maggie's real need, which is to be able to live with other female elephants in a warm year-round outdoor environment.
---- Penelope Wells, president / Friends of Maggie / Anchorage