Our newest Environmental Enrichment project – Spider Monkeys!

We are working with Dr. Darby Proctor & Dr. Kate Talbot, professors in the School of Psychology at Florida Tech, and software engineer Jayden Cammarata to develop a first-in-kind, low-cost, computerized testing apparatus for the spider monkeys at Brevard Zoo. The apparatus will allow the spider monkeys to play cognitive “games” using a touchscreen and receive small treats for correct choices. Scientists can evaluate how the monkeys perform on these games to learn more about how they think and make decisions. Cognitive and behavioral testing provides monkeys with mental stimulation and is considered a form of enrichment since it occupies their time and helps monkeys stay engaged with their environment.

December 2022 – Exciting news! – stay tuned for information on our collaboration with FIT (Florida Institute of Technology) for spider monkeys!

Primates/Orangutans -Environmental Enrichment Device (EED)

Location: ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Tampa, FL
This EED is currently being used behind the scenes in the Orangutan habitat. It was previously used in the chimp habitat.

stainless steel housing for the button that primates push. See photo below to see how it is attached to the EED

This is a new feeder configuration that can be set up for use on either the black bear EED or the primate EED. This can dispense small seeds and shelled peanuts

We delivered the new feeders to ZooTampa in mid December.

Orangutans are red-haired apes that live in the tropical rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo in Southeast Asia.  The orangutan is one of humankind’s closest relatives –sharing nearly 97% of the same DNA.  The word orangutan comes from the Malay words “orang hutan“, meaning “person of the forest“.  Orangutans are endangered.  Deforestation in the forests where they live has reduced their habitat, and illegal hunting has put populations at serious risk.  They have become extinct in some parts of Asia, Most of their forest habitat in Borneo and Sumatra has been lost to make room for palm oil plantation.

Orangutans are highly arboreal in nature. They spend 90% of their lives on trees. Adult orangutans rarely touch the ground. They have a 7 feet span between arm to arm and their arms stretch beyond their height (about 5 feet), when they stand. These huge arms help them to swing on trees. On average, orangutan females are around 45 inches tall, and males are around 54 inches (tall. Females weigh an average of 81.5 lbs and males average around 191 lbs. They eat during the day and their diet consists mostly of fruit and leaves.  They also eat nuts, bark, and insects and drink water that collects in tree holes.   They sleep in leafy nests high off the ground.

Female orangutans give birth about once every eight years. Infants stay with their mother for six to seven years, until they have learned the necessary skills to survive on their own. During this time, a very special bond is formed between the mother and baby. These apes generally have long lives – in zoos they can live for 50-60 years, and in the wild, 30-40 years.