Training eases chimps’ treatment

Primate keepers are using a basic training scheme to help chimpanzees accept medical treatment.

Team Leader Lower Primates, Nicola Wright, explained: “DZG is working on a programme which will help chimps cope better with basic medical procedures, such as receiving injections or being treated with medicines, including eye drops.

“We have started to train the chimps to present different parts of their body so that keepers, or the zoo’s vet, can provide medical treatment.”

She added: “We use classical conditioning methods through which chimps learn to associate receiving rewards with the sound of a clicker.”

The chimps are rewarded when they complete the required task and keepers are hopeful that in time the clicker will immediately prompt them into action.

Nicola said: “The training will take quite a while, and will be an ongoing process, but it has lots of benefits for the chimps, such as reducing the need for anaesthetics during relatively minor veterinary procedures.”

The training will help our chimps cope better with basic medical procedures.