Abstract # 65:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011 04:45 PM-05:00 PM: Session 13 (Meeting Room 408) Oral Presentation


A. Fultz, L. Brent and E. Loeser
Chimp Haven, Inc., 13600 Chimpanzee Place, Keithville, LA 71047, USA

Teresa, a 46 year old chimpanzee, passed away leaving her 4 year old infant Tracy an orphan. In the wild, infant chimpanzees are weaned at 4-5 years of age but often remain with their mother for many years. Tracy was still nursing at the time of Teresa’s death. Tracy was reintroduced to her original group (n=13) after her mother’s death. The group had been together since 2005, but recently three new females were introduced. Twenty eight, 30 minute focal animal observations were collected using The Observer software for 2 months prior to Teresa’s death and 2 months after. Caregivers also recorded Tracy’s sleeping partner preferences following Teresa’s death. The Shewart chart method was used to determine significant changes between the two conditions. After her mother’s death, the time Tracy spent resting and her time spent inside increased significantly (resting: 21%; inside: 18.29%) while play behavior decreased 29.76%. Tracy significantly increased her time spent in contact with others after Teresa’s death by 10% but spent more time alone (89.54%) than when her mother was alive (63.90%). Affiliative behaviors by group mates towards Tracy significantly increased 29.52% after Teresa’s death. Tracy often sleeps with a particular female, but has slept with 10 different group members on different nights. In this large captive group of chimpanzees, both male and female chimpanzees have become caregivers to orphan Tracy.