One of my favorite tasks here at the Primate Rescue Center is enriching the lives of our residents. We provide a variety of large and small toys, magazines, paper bags, noise makers, boxes, etc. that our residents can use as they like. Jenny Chimpanzee loves using the paper bags to lie down on, and Jake our Japanese Macaque loves to play with soccer balls. Our staff, volunteers, and interns love coming up with new designs, particularly if they include a treat which can be challenging to obtain.
One novel idea that we like to give to our residents is the Food Plait. Inside this braid of twisted paper, we weave a variety of items such as cereal, nuts, seeds, and/or dried fruit. On the outside of the braid, we brush it with flour and water to make it sturdy and extra tasty. The chimpanzees love to tear it apart to see what’s inside, and the monkeys will use their teeth to rip the side of a braid and pick out all the goodies.
Another favorite among our residents are the seed shakers. They come in all different shapes and sizes and are made by reusing clean water bottles, gallon jugs, bleach bottles, etc. We like to fill part of these seed shakers with newspaper strips or pine shavings, and then we add seeds, nuts and dried fruit to the mix. We then drill small holes around the seed shakers so that the monkeys can reach inside and pick out their treats. Or, they may just choose to shake the seeds out. The chimpanzees will carry a seed shaker around for hours to get every last goodie that is inside!
We love developing new enrichment ideas for our residents, and they love to get new and challenging items! If you have any ideas be sure to let us know and don’t forget to check out our wish list for some enrichment that our residents already love!