Bred in Captivity

Elephants are amongst the world’s most clever animals, they’re social, understanding friendly and warm. They enjoy the company of other elephants and need frequent exercise to maintain their health and happiness. In the wild, they live in herds of up to 100 elephants. They travel up to 40 miles a day. They play, go for a dip in rivers and are on the move all the time. In their natural environment, they can live for up to 60 years. In captivity, elephants are often isolated or in units of two or three. They’re robbed of the socialization that’s necessary for their well being and regularly show signs of stress like head bobbing. Often, they have little room to exercise causing them to become depressed and overweight. They’re prone to chronic health problems – tuberculosis, arthritis, and foot abscesses. Elephants in captivity die before the age of 40 (Mar et al., 2012).

howtobeawildelephant_1280 (1)Like elephants in the zoo, modern children spend much of their time in captivity, enclosed in vehicles, shuttled from one indoor activity to another – sometimes without even glancing up from a handheld screen. They panic at the thought loosing mobile phone coverage (Lougheed, 2008). Modern children spend less time than their parents did playing outside. There has been a fundamental shift away from nature to ‘videophilia’ – sedentary activities involving electronic media (Pergams & Zaradic, 2006). The move away from traditional outdoor activity like climbing trees, ropes and wall walls has had a huge impact on children’s health. It has made modern 10-year-olds physically weaker than their counterparts living in the 1990s.They can do fewer sit ups, are less able to hang from bars and are less muscular than those brought up in the 1990s. Even though children have the same BMI (height to weight ratio), they are weaker, less muscled and unable to do physical tasks that earlier generations found effortless. The number of sit-ups 10-year-olds can do declined by 27.1 per cent between 199Os and 2000s, arm strength fell by 26 per cent and grip strength by seven per cent.   Twice as many children cannot hold their own weight when hanging from wall bars (Cohen et al., 2011). Many children are unable to run as fast or as far as their parents could when they were the same age. Children’s levels of cardiovascular fitness are declining internationally.  Studies involving over 25 million children aged between nine and 17, living in 28 countries worldwide over a period of 46 years found it now takes children (aged 9 – 17 years) ninety seconds longer to run a mile than their counterparts did in the 1970s. This means children today are about 15% less fit than their parents were when they were children (Tomkinson & Olds, 2007).heading out on an adventure


Children are becoming more unfit, less active and more sedentary. Climbing trees, walls and fences used to be standard for children, but parents, school authorities and ‘health and safety’ have curbed the natural inclination of our children. The wild child survey prepared for the Heritage Society of Ireland in 2010 showed that Irish children spend less and less time playing outside. They have become prisoners and their home is their new “exercise yard” (Carver et al., 2008). Falling off a tree used to be a lesson in picking yourself up and learning to climb better. Now fear of possible injury and litigation stops the child climbing in the first place. The obsession with children’s safety in every aspect of their lives has meant instead of letting them go outside to play, parents fill their children’s free time with organized activities. Their play has become so manicured, scheduled and planned. It’s clean and bleached, timed and measured. Maybe sometimes it just needs to be dirty, spontaneous and enjoyable just like wild elephants.




Kamau JW, Wanderi MP, Njororai WWS, Wamukoya EK: Prevalence of overweight and obesity among primary school children in Nairobi province, Kenya.Afr J Phys Health Educ Recr Dance 2011.,17(2).


Carver A, Timperio A & Crawford D. (2008). Playing it safe: the influence of neighbourhood safety on children’s physical activity. A review. Health Place 14, 217-227.


Cohen DD, Voss C, Taylor MJ, Delextrat A, Ogunleye AA & Sandercock GR. (2011). Ten-year secular changes in muscular fitness in English children. Acta Paediatr 100, e175-177.


Lougheed T. (2008). Wild child: guiding the young back to nature. Environ Health Perspect 116, A436-439.


Mar KU, Lahdenpera M & Lummaa V. (2012). Causes and correlates of calf mortality in captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). PLoS One 7, e32335.


Pergams OR & Zaradic PA. (2006). Is love of nature in the US becoming love of electronic media? 16-year downtrend in national park visits explained by watching movies, playing video games, internet use, and oil prices. J Environ Manage 80, 387-393.


Tomkinson GR & Olds TS. (2007). Secular changes in pediatric aerobic fitness test performance: the global picture. Med Sport Sci 50, 46-66.


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I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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