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Environmental enrichment for captive chimpanzees: introduction of two climbing structures 4m and 8m high

Tomomi Ochiai and Tetsuro Matsuzawa, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University

     Chimpanzees in the wild spend more than half of their days in trees, preferring to stay high above the ground. From the viewpoint of animal welfare, to promote the quality of life in captive chimpanzees the provision of three-dimensional space seems to be highly important. The Japan Monkey Center (JMC) located in Inuyama, Japan, is home to a group of seven chimpanzees kept during the daytime in an approximately 800m2 outdoor compound surrounded by a moat. Until recently, only simple climbing structures and planted trees were available in the compound for environmental enrichment. Then in 1998, in cooperation with the neighboring Primate Research Institute (PRI) of Kyoto University, JMC introduced a wooden climbing frame 4m high to create a more complex three-dimensional space. In April 1999, another set of wooden climbing frames were added, 8m in height. We investigated the chimpanzees' behavior during three periods: first before the introduction of the climbing frames, then after the introduction of the 4m high structure, and finally after the further addition of the 8m high structure. We recorded behavioral repertoires, activity budgets, and spacing patterns of the chimpanzees. The data were compared with those obtained from PRI where a 15m high metal climbing frame was introduced in 1998. In that case, the chimpanzees showed a drastic change in behavior and spent almost 80% of their days in the climbing frames. The data from JMC also revealed a marked change, although not as drastic as that observed in PRI. We discuss the effects of introducing climbing structures in relation to another effort for environmental enrichment that involved the planting of trees in an outdoor compound for captive chimpanzees.

Ochiai, T. and Matsuzawa, T. (1998). Planting trees in an outdoor compound of chimpanzees for an enriched environment. In V. J. Hare, and K. E. Worley (eds.): Proceedings of the third international conference on environmental enrichment, The shape of enrichment Inc. pp355-364.
Ochiai, T. and Matsuzawa, T. (1999). Environmental enrichment for captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): Introduction of climbing frames 15m high. Primate Research, in press.