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The Effects of Different Types of Feeding Enhancements on the Behaviour of Single-caged, Yearling Rhesus Macaques

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Captive primates rarely have to spend as much time searching for, obtaining and processing food as do their wild counterparts. Enrichment techniques designed to encourage captive primates to spend more species-appropriate amounts of time in foraging behaviours have been successful. The present study measured the behavioural effects of four feeding enhancements: two devices (mats and puzzles) and two foods (produce and frozen juice), on four cohorts (n = 63) of single-caged, yearling rhesus macaques (Macaca mulattq). Devices required considerable manipulation to retrieve rewards, whereas enrichment foods required additional processing. Analyses compared periods when one of the enhancements was available to interim periods when no enhancements were available. Planned comparisons revealed that subjects spent more time feeding, and less time inactive, self-grooming, exploring and behaving socially when feeding enrichment was available. Significantly more time was spent feeding when enrichment foods were provided, but more time was spent playing and using enrichment when devices were in the cage. More time was spent self-grooming and exploring with the acrylic puzzle than with the artificial turf mat. Subjects spent significantly more time feeding when produce was available than when frozen juice was available. Feeding enhancements resulted in more species-typical patterns of activity for single-caged, yearling rhesus. Since feeding devices were used in species-typical activities in addition to feeding, devices may be more valuable than foods. Feeding enrichment programmes which combine stimulating devices with foods that are novel and require processing can positively affect the behaviour of captive primates.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 1996

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