By Janice Metzger
“Browse”, as it relates to primate diets, is plant material such as leaves, vines, berries, twigs and even branches. Wild-living primates consume many types of plant materials that are native to the regions in which they live. Browse is an important part of our captive-living primates’ diets as well. Though we do not have access to the native plants of our primates’ ancestral homes, many common plants in the U.S. are suitable to be fed as browse to our primates.
Browse supplies more fiber than even the high-fiber commercial biscuits, and more fiber than many of the vegetables that we feed to our primates. Fiber is an essential element in our primates’ diet as their “gut,” or intestinal tract utilizes fiber to properly digest and metabolize the food they eat. Primates need substantially more fiber in their diets than humans do. Not only does browse supply essential fiber, but is also a source of enrichment as our monkeys explore and manipulate the plant materials; picking the leaves and berries off the stems and stripping the bark from the branches.