The menu featured two of his favorite dishes—mackerel and herring—but Moritz, thought to be the biggest sea elephant in captivity, didn’t let hunger spoil his table manners. Pressing flippers to diaphragm, he drew back on his haunches and let loose with an aria of thanks.
Keepers at the Duisburg, West Germany zoo, where the 13-year-old sea elephant holds forth, took advantage of his temporarily erect stance to make their annual measurements. The tale of the tape: Fully extended, Moritz is 15 feet long and weighs in at a hefty two-plus tons. Not bad for a fellow who tipped the scales at a modest 330 pounds when he arrived from South America a dozen years ago. A daily diet of 60 to 65 pounds of fresh fish has helped him bulk up.
In the wild, sea elephants have many mates, but Duisburg’s zooperstar is doomed to pass the rest of his days as a widower (he could live as long as 40 years). In previous bursts of affection he squashed two members of the other sex to death, and, sadly, the zoo can’t afford to import a new mate of Moritz’s proportions. The moral? It doesn’t always pay to throw your weight around.