by Supervisor Libby
It’s no secret when it’s feeding time at Primarily Primates. Pant hoots, chatter and chirps fill the air when the wheelbarrows and buckets of chow as well as chopped and whole produce come rolling through the sanctuary.
If you are wondering how we feed the 350-plus hungry mouths at the sanctuary, too put it simply, it’s no easy task.
Our animals are fed a variety of foods throughout the day. Every morning the animals are receive their chow, which consists of nutritional biscuits that provide all of the necessary vitamins and ingredients that the animals need. Each species at the sanctuary has their own specialized type of chow designed for their specific dietary needs. All the animals are fed a specific amount of biscuits daily, tailored to their age, weight, life stage, activity level and overall health. For example, some of our smaller macaques may only receive six to eight pieces of chow, while our baboons receive 25 pieces. If necessary, further accommodations for specific animals’ needs are made, such as soaking their chow in juice or water to soften the biscuit if they have dental problems.
Produce time, or as the caregivers say, “producing” the animals, is one of the best times of the day at the sanctuary. Produce time happens in the afternoon. Animals are fed an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Caregivers have to select, wash, chop and mix their favorite fruits and vegetables throughout the day to prep for this meal.
Our half-pound marmosets and tamarins require finely diced produce, while our chimpanzees prefer their produce whole.
We are very fortunate to work with our neighborhood H-E-B, a grocery store chain throughout Texas, to receive fresh, donated produce each day. H-E-B donates hundreds of pounds of excess, abnormally shaped or slightly ripened produce customers wouldn’t normally purchase to the sanctuary residents. But our animals are not picky; they wouldn’t think twice before indulging in a slightly bruised apple, a spotted banana or an abnormally shaped sweet potato.
The animals also receive food related enrichment, in moderation, where they are challenged to use problem-solving skills to manipulate a variety of puzzle feeders in order to indulge in special treats. The different enrichment activities promote the animals’ natural instincts and behaviors. The animals enjoy using tools to “fish” peanut butter out of PVC pipes that simulate termite mounds. They love foraging for seeds, dried fruit and nuts scattered throughout their habitats.
You can help create our residents’ favorite type of enrichment activity—a special fruit party. You can donate a banana, coconut, orange, strawberry, pineapple, or dried fruit party to any of our primates or birds. To learn more, click here.