12 Days of Grub: Day 10 – Ten Chimps a Chasing

On the Tenth Day of Grub, your zoo gift will help to feed…Ten Chimps a Chasing, Nine Fruit Bats Flying, Eight Giraffes a Galloping, Seven Snakes a Slithering, Six Mole-rats Mining, Five Golden Frogs, Four Calling Birds, Three Wild Dogs, Two Grizzly Bears, and Darwin the Cassowary! CLICK HERE to read them all!

For most wild animals, the acquisition and consumption of food is not just a casual activity, but in fact a full-time job.  A wild chimpanzee in Africa must always be on the search for ripe fruit, edible greens, tasty termites or antshard-shelled nuts  and yes, even small animals to hunt and eat.

Although we can’t re-create a wild chimpanzee diet, here at the Houston Zoo, we provide our chimps with a healthy variety of food including many types of lettuce, fruits, vegetables, nuts, different types of local plants and a specialized “biscuit” made for primates in zoos.  We also give them many types of treats which make up only a small portion of their diet, but are their favorites, including popcorn, peanut butter, honey and fruit juice.

Lucy enjoys some sweet potato and sunshine

Our chimps did not grow up hunting or eating termites, ants or meat, so this is not included in their Houston Zoo diet, but they are given the daily opportunity to show off their amazing ability to use tools by “fishing” for sweet or savory treats in our termite mound replica.

The chimps enjoy using sticks to “fish” for delicious treats

In order to keep their day interesting and to keep them active, the chimps’ meals are provided at different times throughout the day.  One of their favorite types of food is “browse”, or edible plants collected for them throughout the zoo by our own amazing Horticulture team.  Everyday the chimps get some combination of mulberry, banana leaves, willow, fig leaves or other edible plants.

Mac enjoys fig leaves

Chimps aren’t great at sharing their food with one another with a few notable exceptions (moms and their babies, males “wooing” receptive females, etc.)   They have a fairly stable social hierarchy and the higher-ranking chimps have first access to the yummy stuff.  For that reason, it is important that we make sure the food is scattered throughout the chimps’ entire habitat so that each member has the opportunity to collect food, and there is always enough for everyone.

Feeding the zoo’s animals is one of the best parts of being a zookeeper.  We enjoy giving them their food almost as much as they enjoy eating it!

Give the Gift of Grub this holiday season to help provide tasty meals for our chimpanzees and all of the animals at the Houston Zoo!  Our chimps send their ape-preciation for your support.

Thank you also to TXU Energy for generously matching the first $25,000 in donations this year!



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