Reamer, L. A., Haller, R. H., Thiele, E. J. et al. 2014. Factors affecting initial training success of blood glucose testing in captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Zoo Biology 33(3), 212-220.
Type 2 diabetes can be a problem for captive chimpanzees. Accurate blood glucose (BG) readings are necessary to monitor and treat this disease. Thus, obtaining voluntary samples from primates through positive reinforcement training (PRT) is critical. The current study assessed the voluntary participation of 123 chimpanzees in BG sampling and investigated factors that may contribute to individual success. All subjects participate in regular PRT sessions as part of a comprehensive behavioral management program. Basic steps involved in obtaining BG values include: voluntarily presenting a finger/toe; allowing digit disinfection; holding for the lancet device; and allowing blood collection onto a glucometer test strip for analysis. We recorded the level of participation (none, partial, or complete) when each chimpanzee was first asked to perform the testing procedure. Nearly 30% of subjects allowed the entire procedure in one session, without any prior specific training for the target behavior. Factors that affected this initial successful BG testing included sex, personality (chimpanzees rated higher on the factor "openness" were more likely to participate with BG testing), and past training performance for "present-for-injection" (chimpanzees that presented for their most recent anesthetic injection were more likely to participate). Neither age, rearing history, time since most recent anesthetic event nor social group size significantly affected initial training success. These results have important implications for captive management and training program success, underlining individual differences in training aptitude and the need for developing individual management plans in order to provide optimal care and treatment for diabetic chimpanzees in captivity.