Chimpanzees in Africa have been declared an endangered species. In part, conservation efforts are directed toward developing captive rearing programs which promote species typical behavior. Nursery-reared chimpanzees are at risk for developing behavioral inadequacies in adulthood, such as deficits of social competence, reproductive competence, and maternal competence. Deficits in maternal care, in particular, have severe consequences such as infant mortality or removal of the infant, thus perpetuating the cycle of nursery-rearing. It would be extremely useful to provide corrective interventions, especially for maternal competence. The extensive research in the past 20 years in human infancy pinpoints certain key areas of functioning in infancy that are related to later competence. These areas include neonatal neurobehavioral integrity, adrenocortical response to stress, temperamental characteristics (e.g., activity, consolability), and secure social/emotional attachments. Procedures have been designed to measure these characteristics: specifically, these are the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale, salivary cortisol assays and heart rate patterns in response to mild environmental challenges, and the Ainsworth Strange Situation. This chimpanzee assessment battery constitutes a useful set of protocols that documents the biobehavioral and neurobehavioral integrity of the chimpanzee infant. The specific goals of this project are (1) to enhance behavioral well-being of young nursery-reared chimpanzees, and (2) to enhance maternal competence by providing juvenile nursery-reared chimpanzees with the opportunity to learn fundamental maternal skills. The assessment battery will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of corrective early interventions. The hypotheses are that the number of individuals who exhibit stereotypies will be reduced and the severity of response to mild environmental stress will be reduced with the extra vestibular and responsive social stimulation given as a corrective intervention in early infancy. The second hypothesis is that through monitored 'hands-on' interactions, juvenile nursery-reared chimpanzees will learn to pick up and hold younger infants, thereby enhancing future maternal competence.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
Resource-Related Research Projects (R24)
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Animal Resources Review Committee (AR)
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Emory University
Other Domestic Higher Education
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