Abstract # 192:

Scheduled for Saturday, August 20, 2005 08:15 AM-08:30 AM: Session 14 (Mayfair Room) Oral Presentation


TRAINING CHIMPANZEES TO VOLUNTARILY PRESENT FOR INTRAMUSCULAR INJECTIONS USING POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT TRAINING TECHNIQUES

S. J. Schapiro, J. E. Perlman, E. Thiele and S. P. Lambeth
The Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research, Dept. of Veterinary Sciences, UTMDACC, 650 Cool Water Dr., Bastrop, TX 78602, USA
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     Positive reinforcement training (PRT) techniques have been used to train our colony of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) to voluntarily present for injections. The chimpanzees participate in a comprehensive PRT program that includes: body and medical examination behaviors; blood, urine, and semen collection; and subcutaneous injections. Presentation of the thigh is required for an intramuscular injection of anesthesia and for certain veterinary treatments. Successful training of this behavior requires many shaping steps, including: 1) presentation of a thigh directly against the wire mesh, 2) holding still while accepting a capped, then a blunted, and then a sharp needle pressed against the thigh, and 3) penetration of the needle into the thigh. Training time investment and total number of sessions required for reliable performance of the target behavior were analyzed for 125 chimpanzees. Eighty-two animals were reliably trained to present for injection in a mean of 86.9 minutes (=30.8 sessions). During 2004, 67.8% of the 361 administered anesthetic injections were given to animals voluntarily presenting a thigh. Only 26.6% of anesthetic episodes required darting the animals, while an additional 5.5% involved other involuntary techniques. These data 1) highlight the effectiveness of a comprehensive PRT program that increases animal cooperation for necessary colony and veterinary management practices and 2) provide the type of information necessary to coordinate captive management-related efforts and plan a successful training program.