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Myanmar’s shrinking forests have created an elephant unemployment crisis

The elephant unemployment rate in Myanmar is about 40%, The New York Times reports. The problem? A reduction in logging caused by dwindling forests and a recent regulation preventing the export of raw timber. Together, these factors have put out of work about 2500 of the country’s 5500 captive elephants trained for extracting timber. The employed elephants of Myanmar are, by all accounts, healthy, with an average lifespan of 42 years, twice that of elephants living in zoos. One possible reason for this difference is obesity. Elephants in zoos get less exercise, and are more prone to weight gains. Now that the Myanmar elephants are living a more sedentary lifestyle, however, they’re starting to look more like their zoo-bound relatives. It’s also difficult to release the creatures, as there’s not much room left for the 5-ton creatures in the Myanmar jungles.

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