If you follow us on Facebook, or keep up with our blogs, you have probably noticed that we use the term “enrichment” regularly. But what exactly are we talking about when we mention enrichment or request enrichment items for the primate residents?

Enrichment refers to anything that stimulates and engages the primates’ minds and bodies, and provides them with the opportunity to use their natural instincts, imaginations and/or species-specific behaviors that they would use in the wild. Enrichment also gives them a chance to make choices and solve problems, which enhances their overall quality of life. This can include everything from varying the structures and bedding materials used in their enclosures, to the sounds and scents they experience everyday.

Since many of the primate residents were raised in isolation as pets or as research subjects in a lab, most have never experienced living in a group with others of their kind and as a result don’t know how to relate socially within a group. Introducing them and allowing them to live in social groups is a form of environmental enrichment, giving them a chance to use some of their natural instincts and to make choices about interactions within the group.

Food is another source of enrichment, and can provide a great opportunity for encouraging species-typical behaviors. For the chimps, we make sure to provide an environment where they can forage for food as they would in the wild, such as structures that give them a chance to mimic termite fishing. We provide forage pools for the monkeys and chimps, and we use toys and fire-hose to make puzzles for them to get food items out of. If you would like to provide some stimulating activities for our monkeys and chimps, our Amazon wish list is full of toys and supplies that we use everyday!

These colorful structures provide the monkeys with places to climb and play, and also areas where they can hide and sleep.

The apes and monkeys love to play with soft blankets and toys. We sometimes add essential oils, or spices to give them new and interesting smells to enjoy.

PVC tubes filled with food items are a great way to get the chimps to problem solve and figure out how to get the treats out. Paper bags filled with food or toys encourage them to explore their environment and use their foraging skills.

Fire hose is great for making these braided puzzles for the chimps. We hide little treats inside of them, and the chimps have to figure out how to get to whatever is hidden inside.

We love to throw birthday parties for the chimps, with lots of fun enrichment items for them to explore – and destroy!

We are always coming up with new enrichment for the PRC residents. We love to provide them with the best care possible, and that includes all kinds of creative enrichment!