Environmental Enrichment – Part 2: Food

The next part in our “Environmental Enrichment” series is everyone’s favorite (human, chimpanzee, and monkey)… FOOD ENRICHMENT!

Food enrichment

Food enrichment includes:

    • Foraging
    • Wadging
    • Variety
    • Fresh and cooked foods

Variety is the spice of life

In the wild chimpanzees can spend up to 60% of their day processing, eating or manipulating different types of food. In captivity we try to recreate this behaviour as much as possible. We do this by incorporating as much variety as possible into the diets of our residents. This means variety in the types of produce we offer to variety in the types and textures in the cooked foods we offer.

Fauna Food Enrichment

Chef Trevor serves up the faves

Chef Trevor makes the most amazing vegan food for the residents! He incorporates delicious flavours along with important health foods like beans, nuts, and veggies. We cover more about the various types of healthy meals and servings our residents receive throughout the day in our recent blog post, A Day in Fauna’s Kitchen.

Curious to learn more about Chef Trevor’s recipes? Sign up for our e-newsletters! Fauna’s newsletters this spring feature Chef Trevor’s recipes from the Chimp House! Some of the recipes for the residents’ favourite meals include vegan lasagna (or really pasta of any kind), orange-cranberry couscous, and tofu stir fry.

For an even deeper dive, you can find all of the chimps’ favorite recipes in our two ever-popular vegan cookbooks — The Fauna Foundation Cookbook and Cookies, Cakes and Cupcakes. (Tasty tip: These books make great gifts!)

Wadging and foraging as food enrichment

We offer the residents whole fresh, raw fruits and veggies daily. This encourages wadging behavior. As Jane Goodall notes, wadging is a behaviour in “which fruit is pressed against the anterior dentition while the fruit juice is sucked out, making a wadge of pulp, skin, fiber, and seeds; the seeds are discarded once the juice has been consumed (Goodall, 1986).” Basically, it’s a way for chimpanzee’s to extract all the yummy goodness out of whole fruits and veggies and then chew on the leftover pulp…a chimpanzee version of chewing gum!

Darla and Newton, Fauna’s resident rhesus monkey family, also enjoy foraging. Rhesus Macaques like to pick up their favourite snacks and store them in their cheek pouches. Cheek pouches are expandable pockets inside the mouth that start at the cheek and can extend down to the shoulder. They can store yummy food in their pouches and snack on it throughout the day, providing lots of time spent eating.

We offer the residents an opportunity to forage for different kinds of food. Nuts and seeds make great foraging options to spread amongst hay, straw and shredded paper. Darla happens to be the expert at finding every seed! She has been known so spend hours meticulously searching each enclosure for every last seed.

Donate to our enrichment program!

As you can see, food plays a very important role in the daily lives of the residents. If you’d like to donate to our monthly produce order or buy the residents one of their favourite nuts and seeds, we would greatly appreciate your help! All cookbook proceeds also go towards the supporting the residents and our monthly produce costs.


Want to start at the beginning of our Enrichment series? See Part 1: Social Enrichment. Or go to the next article, Part 3: Sensory Enrichment.

– by Kaeley Sullins, Animal Caregiver