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Keywords:

  • diet;
  • enrichment;
  • health;
  • herb gardens;
  • medicinal plants;
  • plantings;
  • primates;
  • toxicity;
  • woolly monkey;
  • zoos

Primates in captivity have been observed eating plants with medicinal properties that grow naturally around their enclosures. In this way they appear to be self-medicating, although this behaviour has not been scientifically proven. This article reviews the literature on the benefits of herbs and medicinal plants positioned in and around primate enclosures. There are some descriptions of the effectiveness of such plants for treating specific ailments, followed by details of the methods by which the primates have access to the plants; for example, within the enclosure, outside the enclosure but within arm's reach or in wiremesh-covered troughs. The properties and active constituents of some herbs and medicinal plants are also given.