Primates are Going Green


by Gus, the blog frog

At the Sacramento Zoo, the chimpanzees and orangutans need their daily multi-vitamins too.

The Zookeepers use operant conditioning (positive reinforcement) to get these very intelligent animals to take their medicine in a small cup. If the vitamins are liquid, then they are mixed with some juice. If they are pills, then they are crushed and added to yogurt. If one of the animals does not need any medicine or vitamins, they still get a cup of juice. This becomes part of the daily routine and makes administering medicine a normal part of their day and diet.

The primates get a multi-vitamin to supplement their diet. The older chimpanzee and orangutan also get medicine to help with arthritis.

This required 16 dixie cups a day! That is 11 for the chimps and 5 for the orangs. Don't even ask me to calculate a years worth, it is too much.

As one of my duties as the green mascot at the Zoo, I was able to get all the Zookeepers to start using reusable aluminum bottles, which eliminated human paper cup waste completely. This inspired the primate keepers to find an alternative to the dixie cup usage of our animals.

Now, they have reusable plastic cups with reusable straws (which were surplus from the snack bar, even better) which are washed and stored daily. And because our keepers go all out for the animals, they even built cup holders inside the den, to keep them from tipping the cups over.
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