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The Right Enrichment for your Primates

Primates, no matter how large or small, are curious and intelligent, and their toys should encourage exploration and manipulation. Any new object presented will evoke interest and activity, but that interest may quickly wane. A well rounded enrichment program will include rotation of toys for variety- a way to maintain the level of interest in an object.

Two attributes of suitable toys for enrichment are complexity and responsiveness. Complexity can be structural (related to shape) or visual (related to color). Responsiveness is the interactivity of the toy, i.e. the degree to which the animal can exert control over the toy and the response of the toy to that control. In other words, the animal does something,
such as push a button and the toy responds, perhaps by making a sound. It is the responsiveness of an object that seems to keep the animal interested over time.

Primates tend to explore with hands and mouth, and will often chew or insert toys into their mouths. Good toys need to withstand this treatment.

When selecting toys for primate enrichment, consider animal size in relation to toy size. Large objects in tiny hands are an invitation to injury; objects too small may become choking hazards for a larger animal. Over sized items can also decrease the available floor area in the primary enclosure, block access to feeders or damage water valves. Toys need to hold up to rough handling, sanitize easily and be safe for use.

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