A Feast to Behold
By Jenny Desmond
Chimpanzees eat a lot!
147 chimpanzees eat more than 1,250 pounds of food each day! Every day, Tchimpounga’s residents require 1,110 pounds of fruits and vegetables, 80 pounds of soya, 55 pounds of rice, 7 pounds of powdered milk, and at least one can of baby formula and cereal.
Babies under three years of age receive bottles of formula in the morning and at night. In addition to the fruits and vegetables they receive throughout the day, the chimpanzees also enjoy warm oatmeal at noon. Juveniles get a liter of milk and, along with the adult chimps, receive a steady supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, including rice balls and soya.
The chimpanzees at Tchimpounga like to eat fruits such as bananas, watermelon, bread fruit, papaya, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, passion fruit, coconuts, and wild fruits from the forest. Along with these fruits, they are partial to vegetables, including sweet potatoes, cabbage, eggplant, endives and other greens, which they receive four times day.
While the chimps expect their food to appear magically, it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get it to them. To ensure good nutrition, Tchimpounga works with local communities that cultivate and supply a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Farmers meet up each day to weigh and deliver all types of fresh food, which must then be loaded into storage at the sanctuary. Food for the day is picked up and brought to the kitchen to be washed, cut, and distributed to the sanctuary’s five groups. In the morning and again at night, the kitchen staff prepares milk for the babies, soya and more than 300 rice balls to welcome everyone in for the night.
The cost of all this food? More than $600 a day, totaling more than $228,000 per year!