Over the last couple of weeks Colobus Conservation staff and volunteers have been busy updating and upgrading our current enrichment schedule. Helen Page, an eco-volunteer who joined us earlier this month has been leading this project based on knowledge she brought with her from working in UK zoos. Read more
Enrichment is an animal husbandry technique that has been designed to improve the care and reduce potential boredom of captive animals. The purpose of enrichment is to increase the range and number of species-specific behaviours, and reduce the frequency of abnormal or stereotypical (repetitive actions with no obvious personal gain) behaviours. In addition to this, Colobus Conservation designs its enrichment program to teach the monkeys essential life skills such as foraging for insects or sleeping and moving in branches, ultimately better preparing them for life back in the wild.
Helen and the Colobus Conservation Team initially focused their attention on our pre-release vervet and Sykes monkey’s. These individual are from a range of ages and backgrounds e.g. orphans and ex-pets. Enrichment for these primates needs to be varied so that there is something to engage all individuals while keeping it natural and replicating what would be found in the wild and encourage natural behaviours.
Yesterday Browse Bars were the order of the day and trialled for the first time this morning. This enrichment item aims to replicate how browse (wild leaves and flowers) would be seen and accessed in the wild. In addition it provides a challenge to the monkeys on how they can get to their preferred browse branch which will involve climbing, pulling and manoeuvring branches from the feeders.
For browser bars logs are collected and numerous holes are drilled through the log along its length and ropes added to allow the browser bars to be hung on the inside of the enclosure.
This morning, while cleaning the monkeys, the browse bars were tied to the inside mesh of the enclosures. Branches of leaves and flowers were then collected and placed vertically into the holes of the browse bars for the monkeys to pull at.
Once in place the monkeys were allowed access and were able to begin enjoying their new feeders and puzzling over how to reach their desired branch and access the delicious bourgainvillea and flamboyant flowers.