The overall objective of this project is to maintain an NIH-owned biomedical resource consisting of 136 chimpanzees and to manage it to serve the national biomedical community needs. The sole specific aim of this supplement over the next year is to maintain a stable, healthy, and well defined population of chimpanzees and to coordinate the relocation of chimpanzees from the New Iberia Research Center to the Southwest National Primate Center. The transfer of the 111 NIH-owned chimpanzees currently located at the New Iberia center to the Southwest center will bring the total number of NIH-owned chimpanzees at Southwest to 136. Relocation details are provided separately. In addition to routine husbandry, high quality behavioral management and enrichment are critical for meeting the social and cognitive needs of the chimpanzees. Aspects of the behavioral services program at the Southwest center include socialization and animal training, environmental enrichment, behavioral management, and staff training. Categories of environmental enrichment include social enrichment (housing with compatible social companions), structural enrichment (e.g., climbing structures, perches. Swings), manipulable enrichment (e.g., chew toys and balls), food enrichment (4x daily fruit and vegetables in addition to special food treats provided by enrichment specialists), sensory enrichment (television, mirrors, radio, novel scents), and occupation enrichement (e.g. termite feeders and food puzzles). Behavioral management is a large part of the total program. In situations where behavioral concerns arise (e.g. increased aggression in a group), observations are conducted and recommendations are made to address the issue (e.g., cooperative feeding or reorganization of the group). With individual animal behavior problems, that animal is referred to the behavioral intervention program manager who conducts an assessment and develops an intervention plan (e.g., training/stationing, occupational enrichment such as food puzzles, or changes in the caretaker routine.
Chimpanzees are man's closest relative and play a unique role in research aimed at understanding human physiology and cognition. The proposed project will complete the establishment of a research resource involving 209 chimpanzees owned by NIH. These chimpanzees, and data derived from them, will be made available to the biomedical research community, and a public education program about the importance of chimpanzees in biomedical research will be established.