Wednesday 20 November 2019

Yoghurt health trial for chimps

One of Edinburgh Zoo's 19 chimpanzees tries out a pot of yogurt with probiotic cultures
One of Edinburgh Zoo's 19 chimpanzees tries out a pot of yogurt with probiotic cultures

A group of chimpanzees are being given a six-month supply of probiotic yoghurt to improve their digestive systems.

Onken has donated more than £1,000-worth of its fat-free Big Pot yoghurt to Edinburgh Zoo's 19 chimps, which are undergoing a health study.

Keepers said they decided to give the chimps the dietary supplement after studies showed the probiotic cultures in the yoghurt could have potential health benefits.

The chimps are said to be enjoying their new treat, which comes in both plain and fruit flavours.

Andy Beer, nutritionist for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), the charity which owns Edinburgh Zoo, said: "After consulting the veterinary team at RZSS, we decided to approach Onken with a view to starting a study into the health and well-being of the chimpanzees by feeding them the probiotic yoghurt.

"Each eating up to two Big Pot yoghurts a week, it's hoped that the live micro-organisms and good bacteria will improve the chimps' digestion.

"Although it's too early in the study to see the potential benefits of Onken on the chimp's health, they've really taken to it, which is a great sign. The chimps enjoy a balanced combination of natural and fruit flavours, but the clear favourites so far really do seem to be the strawberry and summer fruit varieties."

The chimps live in the zoo's Budongo Trail, which is named after the Budongo Forest in Uganda where RZSS fund research into chimpanzee behaviour and social structure in their natural environment.

Dee Masters, Budongo Trail team leader, said: "Our chimps display some interesting behaviour when Onken is offered to them, becoming very excited and competitive.

"The yoghurt is also always the first thing to go and they will go out of their way to use tools to obtain it, all trying to get their fair share."

PA Media

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