Maggie may

Think it's tough fitting a bit of exercise into your busy schedule? Maybe a little worried that you'll waste that $1,000 you've laid out to join a gym? Consider what the folks at the Alaska Zoo are up against.

They've invested $100,000 to modify a treadmill – for an elephant.

Maggie's 23 and was feeling down and getting a little thick around the middle in the nine years since her mate packed it in for pachyderm paradise. Her handlers decided she needed some exercise – especially during those long Alaskan winter months, when an African elephant may be a little reluctant to venture outside.

They figured with some changes to her diet and some exercise, Maggie could enjoy the rest of her years in decent shape. She could live to about 60.

Patrick Lampi, the zoo's executive director, says Maggie's handlers have been training her in preparation for the treadmill since March. They continue to modify the device to accommodate her as they advance through her training.

This week, they gave the treadmill a new non-skid coating. They're still waiting for it to dry. They'll also have to fit the device with barriers to keep her from stepping off the side or the back.

Lampi says Maggie is making steady progress – but he can't say for sure how long before the big gal gets into a regular workout routine.

"We went into this expecting it may take a long time – up to a year," Lampi says. "Maggie's very intelligent and has been very co-operative."

He says the trick to keeping Maggie motivated is to reward her. Just like with people. We tend to be able to motivate ourselves when there is a payoff.

I'm going to contemplate that notion over an ice cream cone.