Regaiolli, B., Angelosante, C., Marliani, G. et al. 2020. Gum feeder as environmental enrichment for zoo marmosets and tamarins. Zoo Biology 39(2), 73-82.
Tamarins and marmosets are small-bodied social callitrichines. Wild callitrichines feed on exudates, such as sap and gum; particularly, marmosets are mainly gummivores, while tamarins consume gums only occasionally and opportunistically. Zoo marmosets and tamarins are usually provided with gum arabic as an alternative to the exudates normally found in the wild. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of a gum feeder on the behavior and well-being of four zoo-managed callitrichines. We studied four cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus), four red-handed tamarins (S. midas), two pygmy marmosets (Cebuella pygmaea), and three Geoffroy's marmosets (Callithrix geoffroyi) housed at Parco Natura Viva (Italy). We conducted the study over two different periods, a baseline (control, without the gum feeder) and then a gum feeder (when the gum feeder was provided) period. We used continuous focal animal sampling to collect behavioral data, including durations of social and individual behaviors. We collected 240-min of observations per period per study subject, with a total of 3,120-min for all the subjects in the same period and of 6,240-min in both periods. We analyzed data by using nonparametric statistical tests. First, we found that the gum feeder promoted species-specific behaviors, such as exploration, and diminished self-directed behaviors, suggesting an enriching effect on tamarin and marmoset behavior. Moreover, in red-handed tamarins, the provision of the gum feeder reduced the performance of self-directed and abnormal behavior, specifically coprophagy. These results confirm that gum feeders are effective foraging enrichment tools for zoo marmosets and tamarins.