Hall, K., Bryant, J., Whitham, J. et al. 2018. Validating WelfareTrak® as a tool to improve the welfare of individual chimpanzees. American Journal of Primatology 80(S1), 33 (40th Meeting of the American Society of Primatologists Scientific Program, Abstract #68).
WelfareTrak® is a web application that gives animal care specialists the opportunity to complete weekly species‐specific surveys to monitor positive and negative indicators of welfare for individual animals. WelfareTrak® generates reports and “flags” potential shifts in welfare status. The goal of the study was to validate a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) survey designed by a panel of experts, using behavioral and physiological measures. For a three month Baseline Period, we collected 30‐min focal observations three times per week and daily fecal samples from 41 subjects representing 16 institutions; followed by six months of continued data collection while using WelfareTrak®. During the Baseline Period, behavioral diversity was 0.30 (Shannon's H, range 0.27–0.33, N = 38), and was negatively correlated with fecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGM) concentrations, r(36) = −0.27, p < 0.05, suggesting that behavioral diversity may be a useful indicator of welfare. Preliminary data from the WelfareTrak Period show that FGM concentrations were predicted by survey items “social behavior,” R2 = 0.132, F(13, 42) = 4.016, p = 0.024, and “calm/relaxed,” R2 = 0.150, F(13, 42) = 4.673, p = 0.014, suggesting construct validity of some survey items. The percent of time spent behaving abnormally was predicted by “performs self‐directed behavior (SDB),” R2 = 0.197, F(13, 42) = 5.767, p = 0.006. We aim to demonstrate that individual welfare can be improved by monitoring with WelfareTrak®.