Main content area

Assessment of behavior and space use before and after forelimb amputation in a zoo‐housed chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)

Ang, Mabel Y.L., Shender, Marisa A., Ross, Stephen R.
Zoo biology 2017 v.36 no.1 pp. 5-10
Pan troglodytes, amputation, animal behavior, animal health, animal well-being, case studies, females, forelimbs, locomotion, monitoring, risk, travel, zoo animals, zoos
Primates possess great manual dexterity, and their limbs are integral to many aspects of normal functioning (e.g., climbing, feeding). As such, the loss of a limb carries the risk of significant disability and potentially harmful impairment of species‐typical functioning. Limb loss is known to occur in some wild primate populations due to entanglement in hunting snares, but can also occur in captive settings due to injury that necessitates therapeutic amputation. In this study, we conducted a detailed evaluation of the behavior, travel, and space use expressed by a female zoo‐housed chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) before and following surgical amputation of her right forelimb. Overall, our results suggest that the injury did not substantively affect her daily activities. She showed no change to her vertical space use, spending equivalent proportions of her time on the ground and high in the enclosure. There was a decrease in the frequency of locomotion on the ground (P = 0.006) but also a significant increase in the overall distance travelled (P = 0.0015) following the removal of the limb. This case study provides evidence that individual chimpanzees are able to successfully adjust to significant anatomical changes when provided adequate environments in which to stay active, and highlights the importance of an effective post‐surgical monitoring period—a comprehensive recovery evaluation that includes input from both veterinary and behavioral research staff is likely to provide the most holistic assessment of animal health and long‐term wellbeing. Zoo Biol. 36:5–10, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.