Pine Cones: Natural, Destructible Enrichment Opportunities for NHPs

Pine Cones: Natural, Destructible Enrichment Opportunities for NHPs

By Stefanie Nelsen

It is our responsibility and obligation to provide an environmental enhancement program that promotes for excellent animal welfare, specifically aimed at improving the psychological well-being of any nonhuman primate (NHP) in our care. We can accomplish this through appropriate behavioral observations, teaching our animals to be willing workers that cooperate with our human staff, and providing species specific and age appropriate enrichment opportunities that are biologically significant to the animals that we are enriching. This is done by focusing upon the 5 categories of enrichment: Social, Occupational, Structural, Sensory, and Nutritional.pinecone1
Pine cones fall under the occupational and sensory categories of enrichment. They are a natural item that the NHPs can touch, smell, look at, and even destroy. They encourage fine motor movements, such as foraging, which allows for the animal to exhibit species typical and appropriate behaviors.

pinecone2Pine cones can also be elevated in many ways, for example:

  •  Scent Enhanced (e.g. cinnamon, nutmeg, cilantro etc.)
  • Peanut Butter and More (e.g. add seeds, nuts, raisins etc.)
  • Color Enhanced (e.g. spray on color frosting)
  • Frozen (e.g. water and nuts or raisins, applesauce etc.)

For any questions on pine cones and/or suggestions on how to utilize a pine cone, please email