The chimps at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire got a Christmas treat this morning, waking up to wrapped presents of dried fruit and nuts in their enclosure. The group of six took just minutes to empty the stockings, and tear open the boxes of food.
The zoo says the presents are more than a bit of fun, and are part of a range of important enrichment activities which the chimps do from day to day.
– Jane Storr, Senior Keeper
"The group are very inquisitive, so giving them gifts like stuffed stockings and presents are a fantastic way of keeping them stimulated and encouraging their natural foraging behaviours."
Foraging is an essential skill for chimps to learn, requiring a combination of intelligence and dexterity. Recent research at the University of Portsmouth found that in the wild the animals pay great attention to what they eat and how, learning how to prepare their food from one another like a human family might do.
The breakfast of dried fruits, nuts and seeds that the chimps had today is a change from their usual morning meals of raw and cooked vegetables. On a regular day they have five or six smaller feeds, which include very small quantities of fruit and nuts.
Click below to watch a video of the chimps: