At the Primate Recue Center, we make a point to “forage feed” our chimpanzees every day. We do that by chopping a specified amount of vegetables and fruits (70% and 30% respectively) and scatter the mix over a large bed of straw and paper. We then cover the food with another layer of straw and paper so that they can search through the area and pick out foods that they want to eat.
In the wild, chimpanzees spend the majority of their day foraging for food. They are constantly on the move trying to find new food sources, and they will regularly return to areas where they successfully find food. They eat mostly fruits, nuts, roots, flowers, and even a few small animals. Our chimps at the PRC eat mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. When we forage feed, they have a chance to come back to that area and forage for food all throughout the day, similar to what they would do in the wild. We provide a forage twice a day, and in between, they receive a healthy lunch, which we make from our recipe book.
Each chimp has certain foods that they prefer, and they will search through the straw and paper to find the foods they like the most. For example, Martina loves avocado, so she gets very excited when she finds those in the mix. While searching though straw for food might sound unappealing to us, it is a very enriching activity for the chimps.
We also make forage pools for our monkeys. We fill a small pool with pine wood shavings, and then add things like dried fruit, popcorn, and nuts. This will often occupy the monkeys for hours!
Foraging is just one of the many enrichment activities we provide for our residents. Our goal is to give our monkeys and chimps the best, and most natural life possible and activities like this give them the opportunity to use natural skills that they would use in the wild.