Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Orangutans' color preference for food items

Published source details

Barbiers R.B. (1985) Orangutans' color preference for food items. Zoo Biology, 4, 287-290


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Primates: Present food dipped in food colouring Management of Captive Animals

A before-and-after study in 1985 in the USA (Barbiers 1985) found that when food was dipped in food colouring juvenile and adult orangutans Pongo spp. ate more and adults took less time to consume the food compared to when food was not coloured. The time adults spent feeding on chow decreased from 17 minutes when it was not coloured to 13 minutes when it was coloured. Juveniles averaged 1–2 pieces of plain chow daily, which increased to three coloured pieces, while the adults’ daily consumption increased from 75 pieces to 84 once it was coloured. ‘Purina’ monkey chow was dipped in red, green, blue and orange food colouring and offered to three adults and two juveniles. Equal numbers of differently coloured pieces of chow were offered. Observations took place for 45 minutes/day for eight days with uncoloured chow, coloured chow and then uncoloured chow again.    (CJ)