Zoo Weans Animals Off Fruit Because Its Increased Sugar Makes Them Fat and Rots Their Teeth

A monkey eats a banana as it takes a break from performing at a cultural center in Islamabad, Pakistan October 22, 2016. Melbourne Zoo is weaning its monkeys off fruit because of their higher sugar content. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

Zookeepers in Melbourne have had to wean their animals off fruit -- which is now so full of sugar that it has made them fat and rotted their teeth.

The cultivation and selective breeding of fruit has made fruit so sugary that they are now too unhealthy for the animals. This is why Melbourne Zoo has decided to switch its animals' diet towards green leafy vegetables and red pandas are given "panda pellets" that are packed with vitamins and minerals.

Melbourne Zoo's head vet Michael Lynch told the Melbourne Age that its monkeys do not get any bananas at all.

"Fruit is a highly desired item because of its sugar content. So many animals, especially primates and red pandas, they will selectively eat the fruit but not other elements.

"The issue is the cultivated fruits have been genetically modified to be much higher in sugar content than their natural, ancestral fruits," he said.

Fruit for humans is linked to reducing risks of heart disease, cancer and stroke.

It contains fructose and its fiber, water and chewing resistance mean that the sugar it contains hits the liver more slowly than the free sugars in soft drinks, according to healthline.com which says that this makes it almost impossible for humans to consume enough fructose to cause harm,

But the fruit-based diet of some animals at Melbourne Zoo is posing problems for their health.

Dr Senaka Ranadheera, a food scientist at the University of Melbourne said that sugar levels in some fruit, like plums, have doubled, although are still much less than those in soft drinks.

"Pretty much all cultivated varieties at present are sweeter than their wild counterparts. For example, wild apples are smaller and more bitter than modern cultivated varieties," the Sydney Morning Herald reported.