Perlman, J. E., Lambeth, S. P., Horner, V. et al. 2010. Videotaped demonstrator improves efficiency of training chimpanzees to urinate on cue. American Journal of Primatology 72(S1), 52. (33rd Meeting of the American Society of Primatologists Scientific Program, Abstract #84)

Studies have shown chimpanzees can learn to perform tasks by watching live or videotaped demonstrators. The present study assessed whether female chimpanzees exposed to a videotaped demonstrator would learn a husbandry-related task, urinating into a receptacle on cue, faster than those without this experience. Nine adult chimpanzees were assigned to either control or experimental conditions. Experimental subjects were shown a "relevant" videotape of a chimpanzee urinating into a receptacle and immediately being given positive reinforcement. Control subjects were shown an "irrelevant" videotape of a chimpanzee performing a different task and immediately being given positive reinforcement. Subjects were exposed to the videotape 17 times. After each viewing, a trainer, blind to the experimental condition, conducted a 15-minute training session with the subject. During those 17 training sessions, 100% of the animals watching the relevant videotape urinated into the receptacle, while only 50% of the animals watching the irrelevant videotape met this training goal. While not significant with our small sample size (X2 = 3.2, P=0.07), this outcome provides evidence that chimpanzees can use information from videotaped demonstrations and apply it to a training task. This study is an example of capitalizing on the cognitive abilities of chimpanzees to enhance chimpanzee behavioral management.

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