Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary rolls out a revised chimpanzee food menu this year.
The Chimpanzee Trust Strategic plan provides for the continued improvement of the welfare of the chimpanzees in its care at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary on Lake Victoria.
With now 52 orphaned and rescued chimpanzees, with an age range from less than 1 year to over 40 years, the needs in terms of nutrition, health care, facilities and quality of care keep evolving and are dynamic.
As such the management has been seeking opportunities to improve all these aspects to ensure that the needs of each individual and the entire group are met.
Access to food and water is a basic need and good nutrition is the basis for a healthy body and a healthy group.
Following a request from us, and with support from PASA’s primate care training program.
The sanctuary invited two experienced veterinarians from Canada, Drs Izzy Hirji and Sophia Marin.
They worked with its veterinary and caregiving team to review the current chimpanzee food menu.
On top of that, the chimpanzee health records over the last 10+ years and recommend changes to the menu for the improvement of group health in chimpanzees on Ngamba Island.
Following a successful visit and report, published in the Primate Society of Great Britain Journal of January 2022.
The team developed a new menu for the chimpanzee, piloted in late 2021 and rolled out in January 2022.
The report from Drs Hirji and Marin indicated that the nutritional needs evolved over the last 10 years.
Some of the chimpanzees developed a lower tolerance to sugars and carbohydrates as they grew older.
There was a higher need for some minerals like calcium and Vitamin E and more fibre.
It is hoped that this new menu will address the few deficiencies, reduce incidences of dental problems that were increasingly on the rise.
In turn, reduce the risk of obesity in the group as many captive and semi-captive primates suffer.
A number of natural food products, readily available on the market all year round, were tested and the most palatable selected.
Some foods items were adjusted and others introduced to meet the minimum needs as determined from the review of the blood test results obtained at the annual health checks, over the last decade.
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The new menu has been well received by the chimpanzees, albeit with some difficulty for some individuals.
The feeding regime has also been adjusted to ensure that the different age groups can access the foods they mostly need.
The team also addressed some sociological and psychological needs of individual chimpanzees.
They have been working with the team to identify deficiencies and design enrichment protocols that are easy to do while achieving the goals.
The caregiving team agreed on a schedule of enrichment, especially for the chimpanzees that may need isolation or periodical separation.
Management remains committed to meeting all the welfare needs of the chimpanzees and remain a beacon of excellence in primate care in the world.