Curious treats delight primates at Werribee Open Range Zoo

25 November 2020

Werribee Open Range Zoo’s team of volunteers have created a smorgasbord of familiar-looking treats for the Zoo’s primates this week.

While it might be surprising to see a critically endangered Western lowland gorilla or a Hilgert’s vervet monkey tucking into sushi rolls, rice paper rolls and corn husk parcels, the meticulously prepared treats provide a range of benefits to the animals.

Volunteer and Visitor Engagement Officer Gillian Godfrey said the primate version of this popular food is designed to be mentally and physically challenging, as well as be healthy and nutritious.

“This is something different that keepers can provide outside the usual day-to-day feeds of browse and scattered vegetables,” Ms Godfrey said. “It gives the animals something new to think about, encouraging both mental and physical stimulation.

“The gorillas and monkeys have to use their fine motor skills to figure out how to unwrap them,” she said. “It’s also just one of the many interesting ways we can provide the primates with the food they require to keep them active and healthy.”

Ms Godfrey said volunteers play an important role in helping keepers provide the best care to the Zoo’s animals.

“As a volunteer, we help prepare food and enrichment for the animals,” she said. “And it’s really awesome to watch the animals devour the food we prepare for them.”

Ms Godfrey is one of 800 volunteers at Zoos Victoria, of all ages, volunteering their time and skills.

The Western lowland gorillas and Hilgert’s vervet monkeys at Werribee Open Range Zoo are conservation ambassadors for their wild cousins and help to enhance the genetic diversity for the species as part of a regional captive breeding program.

Werribee Open Range Zoo re-opened to visitors on 29 October under the latest changing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions by the Victorian Government. Daily visitor numbers are capped and all tickets must be pre-purchased online. For more information, visit: