Abstract # 13149 Event # 166:

Scheduled for Saturday, August 11, 2018 11:15 AM-11:30 AM: (Chula Vista ) Oral Presentation


VALIDATING WELFARETRAK® FOR CHIMPANZEES USING PHYSIOLOGICAL AND BEHAVIORAL MEASURES OF ANIMAL WELFARE

K. Hall, J. Bryant, M. Staley, J. Whitham and L. Miller
Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, IL 60513, USA
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     Using multiple empirical assessments can inform how care practices help enhance animal welfare. Our goal was to validate an expert-designed chimpanzee WelfareTrak® survey, using behavioral and non-invasive physiological measures, including fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGM) and secretory Immunoglobulin A (SIgA). Both SIgA and FGM increase in response to acutely stressful situations. Over time, poor welfare can lead to lower behavioral diversity, SIgA suppression, and higher FGM concentrations, whereas positive welfare is predicted to increase behavioral diversity, stabilize SIgA at higher levels, and lower FGM concentrations. We collected 30-min focal observations 3x/week and daily fecal samples from 41 subjects representing 16 institutions, over a 9 month study period. Weekly welfare surveys were completed by animal care staff during the last 6 months of data collection. In an initial regression analysis, we found that certain items on the survey are valid for tracking the welfare of individual chimpanzees. There was a negative relationship between SIgA concentrations and survey item "quality of feces/urine" (ß= -0.086, t(1007)= -2.825, p= 0.005); increased SIgA would be expected as part of the immune response to gastrointestinal inflammation. We found positive relationships between SIgA and survey items “mobility” (ß= 0.098, t(1007)= 3.178, p=0.002), “use of space” (ß= 0.111, t(1007)= 3.667, p= 0.000), and “weight” (B= 0.208, t(1007)= 7.051, p=0.000) confirming that subjects with good physical condition that explored their environment had healthier immune systems.