Abstract # 2059 Poster # 160:

Scheduled for Friday, August 18, 2006 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 17 (Regency West 1/3 ) Poster Presentation


TESTING THE POSITIVE EFFECTS OF AN ACTIVITY ROOM ON SPECIES-TYPICAL BEHAVIOR IN CAPTIVE CHIMPANZEES (Pan troglodytes): A PILOT STUDY

S. P. Leland1,3, K. M. Arbenz-Smith1,2,3, C. K. Shaver3, M. C. St.Claire3 and J. M. Erwin2,4
1BIOQUAL, Inc., Department of Primate Psychology, Rockville, MD, USA, 2Foundation for Comparative and Conservation Biology, Needmore, PA, USA, 3BIOQUAL, Inc., Department of Primate Biology and Medicine, Rockville, MD, USA, 4Consultant, Needmore, PA USA
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     The extent to which captive chimpanzees exhibit species-typical behavior can indicate the status of their mental health and well-being. Assessment of these behaviors is a significant part of evaluating the adequacy of environmental conditions. The rearing environment plays an important role in the development of species-typical behavior. Chimpanzees reared in environments lacking maternal contact and other appropriate stimulation typically develop elevated rates of abnormal behavior. Provision of appropriate environments continues to contribute to psychological well-being. As part of a longitudinal program of monitoring health and behavior of laboratory chimpanzees, we evaluated the effectiveness of an “activity room” in promoting species-typical behavioral patterns. This large play area accommodated larger groups, contained additional climbing structures, and allowed visual access of both conspecifics and office areas. Behavioral rates of a group of three juveniles in the activity room were compared with those of a pair and two singly-housed individuals in glass-walled biocontainment suites. Observations were made using a point sampling method that yielded behavioral rates of species-typical and abnormal patterns. Rates of species-typical behavior were high for all three conditions, with the highest rates occurring in the triad (97.8%), and the lowest in the individuals housed alone (95.3%). Rates for the pair were intermediate (96.1%). The results suggest that rearing conditions had been adequate and that even the more restrictive conditions in this study promoted social well-being.