Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Encouraging natural feeding behavior in captive-bred black and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata variegata)

Published source details

Britt A. (1998) Encouraging natural feeding behavior in captive-bred black and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata variegata). Zoo Biology, 17, 379-392


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Primates: Maximise both horizontal and vertical food presentation locations Management of Captive Animals

A controlled study in 1994 in the UK and Madagascar (Britt 1998) found that black and white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegate variegata fed for less time on provisioned food indoors and more time on natural vegetation in their outdoor island exhibit than when caged. The percentage of time spent feeding reduced from 89% when caged to 61% on the island, but 39% of the time was spent feeding on natural vegetation rather than provisioned food on the island. The variety of locations also encouraged them to exhibit similar use of feeding postures (96% of feeding time) and support postures (20% of ground feeding) to that observed in wild lemurs (75% and 25% respectively). On the island, chopped food was suspended from trees; in the cage, it was placed on a mesh roof rather than on shelves. Four captive lemurs, were observed in a cage environment from March to June and on an island from June to September over 24 days (192 hours of observation). As a comparison, observations of a wild population were collected for a focal group of five lemurs every two minutes for 600 hours, to record individual behaviour and posture.    (CJ)