At the PRC, we strive to give the chimpanzees an environment that mimics activities they would experience in the wild. Chimpanzees naturally forage feed, meaning they dig and look through materials in search of food. We replicate this with a twice-daily group scatter feed. We chop a nutritionally regimented amount of fruits and vegetables (70% Vegetable, 30% fruit) and scatter it on a bed of straw, shavings and paper. We then cover all the food with an additional layer of paper and straw, encouraging the chimps to uncover and sort through the mix to find their favorite foods.
In the wild, chimpanzees spend most of their day foraging for food. They are constantly on the move looking for new food sources and returning to ones where they have found success before. Chimpanzees depend on a range of foods to sustain their complex diets. From nuts, roots, flowers and even some small animals occasionally, chimpanzees need a wide range of foods to keep stimulated. Here at the PRC, we offer the troop a variety of nuts, fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, seeds, insects and nutritional chow biscuits. The heated indoor area we use for their forage feedings is open to the chimps for most of the day, allowing them to come back and forth to get food whenever they choose. This is provided twice a day, once in the morning for them to eat on all day, and once in the evening for them to snack on through the night. In between these feedings they also receive a healthy lunch from our custom recipe book!
Just as we all have our favorite foods, so do the chimps. Jenny for example loves iceberg lettuce heads and gets really excited when she finds them while foraging. While searching through straw for your food might not sound ideal to us, it is a very enriching activity for the chimps.
Chimps aren’t the only primates who benefit from foraging; the monkeys do too! Our caregivers give the monkeys foraging pools filled with pine shavings, mixed in with some yummy treats like popcorn and nuts. This activity often lasts hours, as each monkey makes sure they get every last treat.
Foraging is just one of many enrichment activities we provide for our residents. Our goal is to give the apes and monkeys the best and most natural life possible. Activities like these give them the opportunity to use their natural skills and encourage species-specific behaviors.