Ha-pea primates!

We’re celebrating National Vegetarian Week here at DZG and Thursdays mean peas are on today’s menu for some of our primates.

DZG’s chimps, baboons, macaques, howlers and spider monkeys all enjoy a scatter feed of the tasty vegetable every Thursday and Sunday in addition to their daily diet.

But the tiny treats also have another purpose, aiding
keepers to carry out vital dental health checks with the animals.

Senior Keeper, Jodie Dryden, pictured right, said: “We usually give each species a scatter feed of the peas, which keeps them entertained as they search for them on the floor, but we save some back to hand feed the smaller primates, getting them to come over to us for feeding, which gives us a great opportunity to regularly check their teeth and see into their mouths.

Peas are a particular favourite for our primates and we vary how we give them, sometimes they’re fresh, other times they’re frozen and some weeks we cook them.”

Many of the 200 species here at DZG enjoy a vegetarian diet from the great apes to the tiniest creatures in Castle Creatures.

Everyday our storemen prepare, on average, 22kg cabbage, 24kg carrots, six cauliflower, 4kg onions, 12kg potatoes, six cucumbers, 25 lettuce and 1kg swede, while our gardeners also grow a seasonal selection on site for our vegetarian species, with their annual haul including peas, broad beans, runner beans, sweetcorn, radishes and lettuce.

National Vegetarian Week (May 15 – 21) is a yearly awareness-raising campaign promoting the benefits of a meat-free lifestyle.