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Food preferences in relation to nutrient composition in captive white-handed gibbons, Hylobates lar


The aim of the present study was to assess the occurrence of spontaneous food preferences in captive white-handed gibbons and to analyse whether these preferences correlate with nutrient composition. By using a two-alternative choice test three male Hylobates lar were repeatedly presented with all possible binary combinations of 10 types of food that are part of their diet in captivity. I found that with 36 out of 45 possible binary combinations the animals displayed a statistically significant preference for one of the alternatives. The gibbons exhibited the following rank-order of preference: grape > banana > fig > apple > pear > cantaloupe melon > carrot > tomato > cucumber > avocado. Correlational analysis showed a highly significant positive correlation between this food preference ranking and the total carbohydrate, fructose and glucose contents of the foods (P < 0.01). These results suggest that white-handed gibbons are selective feeders with regard to the source of metabolic energy as neither the content of total energy nor the contents of protein or lipids significantly correlated with the displayed food preference ranking. These findings are in agreement with the dietary habits observed in free-ranging animals of this species.    

Responsible for this page: Agneta Johansson
Last updated: 04/29/08