7:30 a.m. | Breakfast and Enrichment
It’s time to prepare Adi and Guntur’s diets! What do siamangs eat? Lots of greens, vegetables and a little fruit. They also receive a special chow diet that is made for primates. It comes in a biscuit form and has a ton of vitamins and nutrients packed into it. I place their diet into enrichment—objects they can see, touch, taste and smell. Adi and Guntur must work to get their food out of the objects, and this helps to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
In this video: Siamang Adi forages for her breakfast. Keepers hang enrichment high and low, encouraging Adi to explore her habitat.
Every day, our siamangs receive at least four kinds of enrichment. Variety is important for primates, so we rotate through a bunch of different items and toys. They can choose to interact with the items for as long as they like. When paired with food, these toys can be especially enticing.
Some enrichment is as simple as a fruitsicle hidden inside a brown paper bag. Others are more complex. With puzzle feeders—such as boomer balls, PVC pipes and suet feeders—Adi and Guntur may need to shake, twist or otherwise manipulate the object to get the treats out. Once I place the diet into their toys, I hang them up in the outdoor habitat to encourage them to explore and forage.
In this video: A siamang’s call starts of slowly, then increases in speed. Often, they are accompanied by aerial acrobatics!
8 a.m. | Morning Duet
After breakfast, it’s time to duet! Early in the morning (and sometimes in the afternoon), Adi and Guntur sing with each other. Their vocalizations—a series of deep “booms,” loud “wows” and barks—can be heard throughout the Zoo! An inflatable sac on their throat allows them to create such loud calls.
In the wild, siamangs live in mated pairs, maintaining and defending their territory from other siamangs. When Adi and Guntur duet together, this strengthens their pair bonds and announces to other siamangs, like Ronnie and Bradley, to stay out of their territory.
In this video: Adi and Guntur tumble and play in their indoor enclosure.
10 a.m. | Playtime
After a busy morning of eating and singing, Adi and Guntur play and wrestle with each other. Tackling, slapping, biting and rolling are all good fun for these two! Often, Adi makes a cute squeaking noise when she wrestles with Guntur. In the wild, these behaviors would help young siamangs develop important social skills. Ronnie and Bradley, who are quite a bit older than their new neighbors, seem to prefer a more relaxed approach and can often be seen sunbathing on sunny days.
In this video: Keeper Lynne McMahan teaches Adi and Guntur behaviors that help the animal care team monitor their health.
11 a.m. | Training
Once Adi and Guntur have had their fun, it’s time to train! We teach all of our primates to cooperate in their own husbandry and health care. Using a combination of vocal cues and hand signals, we can ask our siamangs to move around their exhibit or present different body parts for inspection. If they do the behaviors asked of them, we give them lots of praise and a favorite food as a reward for a job well done.
Typically, Adi and Guntur’s training sessions take place in the late morning or early afternoon. Guntur is very excited about food, but sometimes he is not the best at sharing. If he is around, Adi can be shy and nervous about coming up to the mesh to train. It helps to have another keeper present so we can work with Adi and Guntur one-on-one.
In this video: Guntur and keeper Francesca Bozzo work on station training.
Francesca, my fellow primate keeper, has been helping me work on “station” training. I work with Adi, and she trains Guntur. Each siamang has a color-coded station that we hang on the mesh a few feet apart—Adi’s is yellow, and Guntur’s is red. When they sit by and touch their station, they receive a reward.
As they progress, we will move the stations closer together. Our goal is to be able to have one keeper train and feed the pair at the same time—without Guntur stealing Adi’s food, and without Adi getting nervous and moving away.