Abstract # 4285 Poster # 56:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2012 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 9 (Gardenia) Poster Presentation


USING POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT TECHNIQUES TO TRAIN FOR ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT IN CHIMPANZEES (PAN TROGLODYTES): AN INNOVATIVE APPROACH IN MANAGING AN AGING COLONY

R. L. Haller, E. R. Magden, S. P. Lambeth and S. J. Schapiro
Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research, Department of Veterinary Sciences, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 650 Coolwater Drive, Bastrop, TX 78602, USA
line
     Five thousand years ago, acupuncture in its crudest form was first used as a blood-letting therapy. Since that time, techniques have been significantly refined, and today, acupuncture is used to treat a variety of ailments. Given the proven benefits of acupuncture, we determined this therapy could benefit several chimpanzees at our facility. As our colony ages, we are observing an increase in osteoarthritis cases and have thus far focused our acupuncture treatments on this condition. We have developed a mobility scoring system that allows us to track progress of acupuncture treatments. To obtain maximum benefit, we need to perform multiple acupuncture sessions per animal. However, sedating chimpanzees for all necessary treatments is not a viable option. To overcome this, we began training several of our chimpanzees (N=6) using positive reinforcement techniques to allow us to perform acupuncture in their home cages, without pharmacologic intervention. Chimpanzees are trained to station towards the front of their enclosure and present a specific part of their body against the cage mesh, while the veterinarian inserts multiple acupuncture needles into specific points. Treatments can take up to ten minutes, which requires animals to hold this position for long durations without movement. This treatment modality increases the animal’s voluntary participation in their own care. Using innovative techniques, such as acupuncture, greatly enhances a behavioral management program.