By Amanda Orr
HOUSTON (Reuters) - A pregnant Asian elephant named Tess that was part of a much-publicized weight loss program has miscarried twin calves halfway through her gestation, Houston Zoo officials said on Tuesday.
"In Asian elephants, twins may share a common blood source which can compromise the health of the calves. Twins can also present complications in delivery and compromise the health of the mother," Dr. Dennis Schmitt, an elephant reproductive expert, said in the statement released by the zoo.
Last month, the zoo said it was putting the then roughly 7,700-pound (3,500-kg) Tess on a weight loss and exercise regimen, which included a lower calorie diet and a daily 2 mile (3.2 km) walk, in an effort to help her cut 500 pounds (227 kg) in time for her expected delivery in about a year.
Tess was being watched closely by the zoo's veterinarians and staff for any possible signs of physical and psychological damage from the miscarriage, the zoo said, adding it would not be offering any further details.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler)