Risk factors for some non-communicable health conditions in zoo workers in Pinnawela elephant orphanage, Sri Lanka


  • Weththewa Kankanamge Sanuka Malshitha Weththewa
  • Liyanage Malith Eranda Madduma
  • Bandaranayake Liyanarachchige Dushyanthi Renuka Munasinghe
  • Malinga Lekamge Prasad
  • Dangolla Ashoka




pinnawela, elephant keepers, non communicable diseases, body mass index, sri lanka


A medical clinic to examine the risk factors for some non-communicable disease (NCD)s was held for zoo workers with permission from the management within Pinnawela elephant orphanage (PEO). Resulting information was compared between those who work with (E) and those do not work closely with elephants (NE). The medical staff comprised of 3 doctors, 3 nurses 2 attendants and 2 laborers. A questionnaire was administered as and when each participant zoo worker was examined. Those with health issues requiring further medical attention were referred to the general hospital 8km away.  A total work force in PEO is around 90 and 82 of them participated in the clinic, 22 were from E while 60 were from NE group. Overall body mass index (BMI) of participants indicated 4 participants to be obese, 36 to be overweight and 3 to be underweight, most of them from NE group. Altogether, 18(18/78) had elevated systolic blood pressure out of which 14 (14/82) were from NE. A total of 6 had elevated diastolic blood pressure out of which 5 were from NE group. Vision and hearing appeared not to be serious issues. Alcohol consumption and regular smoking were frequently observed among the NE group. Only one from E and 8 from NE reported some chronic health condition in them. Overall, 74 workers were not found to be having any of the chronic conditions listed (73/82= 91%) out of which vast majority (n=20) were from E group. Food habits, regular exercise and perhaps social aspects may have contributed to the findings. The E group was apparently healthier compared to those in NE perhaps due to their constant exposure to work related regular exercise. Rapid attention must be paid towards NCD situation in zoo workers, if the work force must be maintained healthy.