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Automated Scatter Feeding Device for Vervet Monkeys

Food-based enrichment strategies are common in zoos as a way to activate particular animal behaviours. These behaviours are crucial for the cognitive and physical health and development and maintaining of social structures that would otherwise occur in a species natural habitat.

Vervet Monkeys live in large groups and exhibit highly complex social behaviours, including behaviours that are more commonly associated with human such as spite. Alongside their reproductively oriented social lives, individual and collective acts of gathering of food are a central aspect of Vervets individual cognitive development, societal structuring and the maintenance of social relationships. This project explores remote controlled or semi automated methods of scattering food for gathering in randomised (or non-predictable) ways that might limit the Vervets association of feeding with keeper interactions and support foraging and sharing behaviours.

Research Team
Liam Fennessy & Scott Mitchell
Research Collaborators
Benjamin Brayshaw
Industry Partners
Zoo’s Victoria & Werribee Open Range Zoo
Date: 2015-2016
Status: Current