Written by Miranda Cave, Chimp Caregiver
Chimpanzees in the wild are very resourceful as they find their meals throughout the day. Like humans, chimpanzees are omnivores, meaning that they eat both plants and animals. Wild chimps will eat most fruits or vegetables that they can find, use tools to hunt insects, and will even hunt small mammals for meat.
At Chimp Haven, the chimps have their meals hand delivered to them by their caretakers, and the veterinary staff has built a menu to make sure that they receive the balanced diet that they need to live a healthy lifestyle. Even though they don’t have to hunt for their meals, the behavior staff still works hard to entice the chimps to still use their natural instincts to obtain food, like having to find tools to get goodies out of their termite mound.
To start the day, the retirees get a feast of fruit, leafy vegetables, ground vegetables, and non-leafy vegetables. The usual fruits that are included in their diets are apples, tomatoes, and oranges, but sometimes the enrichment team will give them special treats of grapes, pears, apricots and more. Let’s not forget the most important fruit- their daily banana! Every single morning, each chimp gets a banana to start his or her day off right!
Just like vegetables are important for people to stay healthy, chimpanzees need them too! The leafy greens that they get for breakfast are typically kale, romaine lettuce, or cabbage. They also get a non-leafy vegetable in their breakfast, such as cucumbers, broccoli, or green peppers. Lastly, they get either regular or sweet potatoes to add some starch to their meal!
Along with their fruit and vegetables, the chimps also get chow biscuits twice a day- once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The biscuits provide essential vitamins and protein that they need. Similarly to their bananas, the biscuits are very popular amongst the retirees! They get very excited when they hear us take the lids off of the chow bin and try to get as many biscuits as they can fit into their mouths and hands at one time. Some even use their toes to hold additional biscuits!
At the end of each day, the chimps each get a carrot. Once they munch down on their carrot, they usually start finding their sleeping spot for the night. The night staff then starts chopping up and building the meals for the next day, so when the chimps wake up, their breakfast is already ready to go!