Abstract # 23:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011 10:45 AM-11:00 AM: Session 6 (Meeting Room 410) Oral Presentation


S. P. Lambeth, B. J. Bernacky, P. Hanley and S. J. Schapiro
UTMDACC, Department of Veterinary Sciences, Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research, 650 Coolwater Drive, Bastrop, TX 78602, USA

Captive chimpanzees are provided with a consistent diet and are more restricted than wild chimpanzees in their activity. Consequently, serious health risks related to weight issues, including cardiovascular anomalies, respiratory issues when anesthetized, the development of Type 2 diabetes, and obesity may become problematic. Seven chimpanzees (2M, 5F) in the UTMDACC colony were identified as being morbidly obese and immediate action was taken to reduce their body weights, and thereby improve their health and welfare. The chimpanzees were removed from their social groups and were introduced to one another and housed in a single ‘weight management group’. The suite of weight management changes included: reducing the availability of calories from primate chow; adding fibrous produce to increase satiation; implementing activity-inducing enrichment procedures; using positive reinforcement training techniques to increase cooperation during feeding; and regular monitoring of body weights. Members of this group lost between 12 and 30% of their body weight over a period of 5-11 months. Four chimpanzees have now reached their goal weights, while the two members are within 3 to 6% of their goal weight. Most subjects have also shown significant clinical improvements, including lower blood glucose levels and an absence of respiratory issues during anesthesia. Overall, creating a weight management plan that combines husbandry and behavioral management techniques is a successful tool to achieve acceptable body weight and maintain comprehensive welfare.