Monitoring the behavioural and physiological effects of a naturalistic diet change in great apes


The challenge

Although chimpanzees and orangutans prefer to eat fruits in the wild, this does not translate well in captivity as human-cultivated fruits, compared to fruit of species found in the forests, are higher in sugar and water content. Vegetables are actually a closer match for wild fruits.

The goal

A study is being conducted to monitor the behavioural and physiological changes in orangutans and chimpanzees in our collection as they are transitioned to a more naturalistic diet.

The outcome

This study is ongoing and we are still awaiting results. We hope that findings will enable us to make evidence-based changes in the captive care of our great apes, which will ideally result in healthier individuals, while at the same time providing a frame of reference for future primate diet changes.

This study will also present a comparison of results that can be used to explain the evolutionary adaptation between the frugivorous chimpanzees and the facultative frugivorous orangutans.