Clay, A. W., Crane, M. M., Bloomsmith, M. A. 2022. Weight management towards physiological and behavioral wellbeing for chimpanzees living under human care. Zoo Biology 41(3), 200-217.
Across a period of 54 months, several changes were made to the feeding protocols of 32 adult chimpanzees living at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center Field Station. Before implementing any changes in diet, baseline data were collected for 6 months. During Baseline (BS), the chimpanzees received unlimited amounts of primate biscuits twice a day and a limited amount of produce as enrichment. Treatment One (T1) dietary modifications included an increased amount of vegetables, primarily leafy greens, and biscuit feedings scheduled to occur an hour after vegetables were provided to the chimpanzees. T1 lasted for 1 year. At the end of T1, most of the chimpanzees had gained weight. Treatment Two (T2) occurred over the span of 3 years, during which all the chimpanzees were switched from unlimited, group-distributed primate biscuits to individually prescribed amounts of biscuits, fed individually, and increased daily feedings of leafy greens. By the end of T2, 10 of 15 chimpanzees who were overweight or obese at the start of the project were within range of ideal body condition, and 4 of the remaining 5 were improved. All the chimpanzees who started the project within ideal range were still within ideal range. Significantly more time was invested in eating, foraging, and processing food during T2 (p < .05), more appropriately replicating the natural time budget for a chimpanzee. There were not any increases in abnormal, stress-related, or agonistic behaviors as a function of dietary modifications. Inactivity, however, was significantly higher (p < .05) during the later protocol, and locomotion was concurrently lower (p < .05).