Prevalence of Regurgitation and Reingestion in Orangutans Housed in North American Zoos and an Examination of Factors Influencing its Occurrence in a Single Group of Bornean Orangutans


Correspondence to: Christine Cassella, 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, OH 44109.


Very little research has explored regurgitation and reingestion (R/R) in orangutans. We first aimed to determine the prevalence of R/R in the North American zoo population through a survey of accredited institutions. We report the prevalence of R/R in orangutans >4 years of age as 35% with some sex and species differences. Additionally, survey respondents reported fruit and sweet foods as the most common triggers of R/R. We also explored rates of R/R in a single group of Bornean orangutans at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. We examined the relationship between R/R and feeding schedule and opportunistically observed rates of R/R with and without the presence of browse and sweet foods. We found evidence that R/R is associated with feeding time and that the presence of browse significantly increased the amount of time that animals spent feeding. There was a trend toward decreased R/R when browse was available. We also observed higher rates of R/R when sweet foods were available and we propose that this may have mitigated some of the beneficial effects of browse. We suggest that future studies look further at nutritional influences on R/R behavior. Zoo Biol. 31:609-620, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.