The chimps have such a wonderful family of supporters. Every week, we receive packages of food and enrichment from people all across the country. We rely on these gifts to keep the cupboards stocked and the enrichment bins full, which in turn helps keep the chimps happy. To ensure that we are able to use all of your generous donations, I’d like to share our health and safety guidelines for food and enrichment.
If you follow the blog, you know that we serve a wide variety of food to the chimps. But for their health and safety, we follow these food rules:
- No added sugar – We limit the sugar in the chimps’ diet to sugar from natural sources such as whole fruit. Captive chimpanzees are at significant risk for diet-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. We’ve found that with enough variety, chimpanzees will continue to get excited about healthy food, so we’re confident that they don’t feel deprived. When we do give foods that are sweetened, they’re generally used to deliver medication (Gatorade is a favorite). If you do send food, check the ingredients label – you’d be amazed at the things they add sugar to (like dried fruit! Why?).
- No salt – There is a relationship between sodium and heart disease in humans, and the same is thought to hold true for chimpanzees. Therefore, to be on the safe side, we limit the amount of salt in their diet.
- No mangoes – Mangoes are great for chimps in general, but we have reason to believe that Annie is allergic to them.
- No meat, dairy, or eggs – The chimps at CSNW get plenty of protein from nuts, seeds, beans, and primate chow.
- Limited processed food – The chimps do get treats like bread from time to time, but we try to stick to whole foods as much as possible.
- Nothing prepared outside of the chimp house kitchen – Because we can never be 100% sure of the ingredients or the conditions in which foods are prepared, we don’t give the chimps any homemade foods (e.g. baked goods, trail mix, etc.).
Variety is just as important when it comes to enrichment. We try to give them a little bit of everything, but for their safety, we follow these guidelines:
- No glass
- No metal or sharp edges
- No batteries or battery operated toys
- No soft/flexible rubber, latex, soft/thin plastic, or styrofoam – Some captive chimpanzees have an unfortunate habit of chewing on inappropriate materials. This behavior can lead to a bowel obstruction if the material is swallowed. So to be safe, we don’t give out any of these materials.
- No small beads or beans in stuffed toys
- Art supplies must be labeled as “nontoxic”
If you have any questions about an item that you would like to donate, please feel free to ask. Thanks so much for your support – and keep those donations coming! As you can see from the blog, the chimps’ lives are enriched each day by your generous gifts.