Action: Primates: Present food items whole instead of processed
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
- One before-and-after study in the USA found that when macaques were presented with whole foods instead of chopped foods the amount consumed and time spent feeding increased.
Captive diets for many primate species consist of vegetables and fruit alongside pellets and browse. In captivity monkeys are primarily provided with chopped up vegetables and fruit, which is not what they would find in the wild. The aim of presenting vegetables whole instead of chopped is to increase the time spent foraging and manipulating the food before consumption.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A before-and-after study in 1989 in the USA (Smith et al. 1989) found that when lion-tailed macaques Macaca silenus were presented with whole foods instead of chopped foods the total amount of food consumed and the time spent feeding increased. The average macaque consumed 395g of whole food compared to 306g of chopped food per day. Time spend feeding was greater, as a result of increased consumption and processing requirements, when whole foods were offered. A group of 12 lion-tailed macaques was given fruits and vegetables whole or chopped on alternate days. Feeding data was collected by one observer between 09:00 h and 11:00 h, observing one animal’s behaviour each day for two consecutive days for the chopped control and whole treatment totalling 40 days of observations. (CJ)