Human Caretakers, as Alternates

Wild chimpanzees at Bossou, West Africa

In captive settings we shall simulate activity budget of wild chimpanzees. For example, increase the amount of time gathering food, encourage foraging, and enhance interaction with other mates to simulate their natural lifestyle.

Needless to say, it is essential to encourage social interaction among captive chimpanzees. Moreover, we have been making efforts to offer additional mates as alternate options for our chimpanzees.

We will introduce you to 2 episodes about the chimpanzees with special needs.

Episode one: Kanako at Kumamoto Sanctuary, Wildlife Research Center, Kyoto University(KS)

Thanks to the continuous efforts of caretakers at KS, all chimpanzees, apart from one blind individual, are able to enjoy group social life. Due to her blindness, a 20-year-old female named Kanako has been unable to live in a group with conspecifics. Efforts were made to find an alternative solution for her. Through a face-to-face contact, Etsuko Nogami, one of our caretakers at KS, established a good relationship with Kanako, an alternative solution to provide Kanako some social stimulation as a human companion. Then, a 23-year-old female chimpanzee named Chiko joined the training program. When Kanako and the caretaker stayed in the same room, Chiko was invited to stay in the neighboring room. When the two females started interacting through the mesh the caretaker encouraged and supported all positive mutual interactions between these two females, acting as a mediator, the contact (chimpanzee-human bond) previously established well earlier with Kanako. As a result, a great progress above, all chimpanzees at KS now enjoy some form of social living.


Episode two: Reo at the Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University (KUPRI)

Beginning by September 26, 2006 a then 24-year-old male chimpanzee named Reo at KUPRI had been bedridden as a result of suffering an acute form of tetraparesis. Many staff members of KUPRI -including veterinarians, caretakers and students- have provided full-scale care for Reo, 24 hours a day 7 days a week during the first several months. We feel blessed with his recovery; he could get up luckily by himself again one year after the onset of the disease. Several staff members, who have initially established good relationship with Reo, managed to get his legs and arms extended, working directly in his cage and successfully rehabilitating him.

In the meantime Reo performed several computer tasks per day, a voluntary physical exercise on his part. When he gave correct answer to the task presented at him on the screen, a small food reward automatically dropped into a small collection bowl several meters away. By walking the distance to collect the food motivated him to practice walking, serving his own rehabilitation. He has achieved to walk more than a length of a marathon so far, and he is still moving forward today!


Further reading


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