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Hide and Go Eat

December 26, 1991|ANNE KLARNER

'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house, every creature was screaming, including the mouse, and the dog, and the cat, and the kids-- especially the kids.

If active kids with post-holiday letdown are making you feel like a zookeeper, why not take them to see some real beasts at the Los Angeles Zoo? But get there early to enjoy "Presents for Primates" at 10:30 a.m.

"Presents for Primates" is part of the zoo's behavioral enrichment program.

"We try to brighten up the lives of a lot of animals and to stimulate natural behaviors," said Thaya DuBois, assistant director of research at the zoo. Animals in the wild spend a lot of their time foraging for food, she said. For example, primates spend 50% of their time looking for lunch. But in captivity, animals are fed once a day and don't have much to do. In the enrichment program, DuBois said, zoo volunteers hide food, scatter small seeds and mealworms around for the animals to find, and "make them work for their living," much as they would in the wild.

"Presents For Primates" is behavioral enrichment with a holiday flair. Each day, starting today through New Year's Day, selected primates will get Christmas banana trees decorated with edible flowers, cranberries strung on hibiscus plants and other goodies. Orangutans get their presents this morning, with woolly monkeys getting theirs Friday, macaques on Saturday, gorillas on Sunday, siamangs on Monday, lemurs on Tuesday and chimpanzees on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Zoo, in Griffith Park, is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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