Comparative diet and nutrition of frugivorous and folivorous primates at the Singapore Zoo


  • John CM Sha Wildlife Reserves Singapore



Considerable variability in dietary and digestive strategies exists across primate taxa. Differences in wild primate diet are strongly reflected along the frugivory-folivory continuum, whereby the selection of fruits or leaves as primary diet is strongly linked to different digestive systems that optimizes the extraction of nutrients from these different food types to meet nutritional goals. Successful maintenance of wild primates in captivity require appropriate dietary husbandry to meet the different needs of these primate species. We examined the diet of six species of captive primates with primarily frugivorous or folivorous dietary management and how their nutritional intake corresponded to their provided diet of fruits/vegetables and leaves. Folivorous primates obtained major components of their diet (protein and carbohydrate) from their leave diet while frugivores obtained relatively equal proportions of these components from both food types. Folivorous primates obtained higher protein and fiber - Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) and Acid Detergent fiber (ADF) intake from their leave diets; and higher Non-Structural Carbohydrate (NSC) intake from their fruit diets. Frugivorous primates obtained higher NSC and lower fiber (ADF and NDF) intake from their fruit/vegetable diets. Higher fiber intake resulted in longer Transit Time (TT) for frugivores and longer Mean Retention Time (MRT) for folivores. Overall dietary NSC levels for folivores were close to the recommended upper limits for foregut fermenters; and dietary fiber levels were relatively high for frugivores. These results suggests that appropriate adjustments to the diet provided to these primates should be considered to reduce general intake of easily digestible carbohydrates by folivorous and evaluate the possible implications of high fiber diets for frugivores. Dietary husbandry for captive primates according to their dietary specializations should be considered whenever possible, within constrains of practical captive management.






How to Cite

Sha, J. C. (2014). Comparative diet and nutrition of frugivorous and folivorous primates at the Singapore Zoo. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 2(3), 54–61.



Original Research Article