, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 403–412 | Cite as

A new method of walking rehabilitation using cognitive tasks in an adult chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) with a disability: a case study

  • Yoko Sakuraba
  • Masaki Tomonaga
  • Misato Hayashi
Original Article


There are few studies of long-term care and rehabilitation of animals which acquired physical disabilities in captivity, despite their importance for welfare. An adult male chimpanzee named Reo at the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University, developed acute myelitis, inflammation of the spinal cord, which resulted in impaired leg function. This report describes a walking rehabilitation system set up in a rehabilitation room where he lives. The rehabilitation apparatus consisted of a touch monitor presenting cognitive tasks and a feeder presenting food rewards at a distance of two meters from the monitor, to encourage him to walk between the monitor and the feeder repeatedly. Initially, Reo did not touch the monitor, therefore we needed adjustment of the apparatus and procedure. After the habituation to the monitor and cognitive tasks, he started to show behaviors of saving food rewards without walking, or stopping participation to the rehabilitation. Finally it took seven phases of the adjustment to determine the final setting; when the monitor automatically displayed trials in 4-h, AM (1000–1200 hours) and PM (1400–1600 hours) sessions through a day, Reo spontaneously walked from the monitor to the feeder to receive rewards, and returned to the monitor to perform the next trial. Comparison of Reo’s locomotion in a no-task period and under the final setting revealed that the total travel distance increased from 136.7 to 506.3 m, movement patterns became multiple, and the percentage of walking increased from 1.2 to 27.2 % in PM session. The findings of this case study suggest that cognitive tasks may be a useful way to rehabilitate physically disabled chimpanzees, and thus improve their welfare in captivity.


Chimpanzee Physical disability Walking rehabilitation Animal welfare Cognitive task 



We would like to thank Prof. Testuro Matsuzawa for supervising and financially supporting the present study, as well as the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Nos. 20002001, 24000001). We are also grateful to Kiyonori Kumazaki, Akino Watanabe, Akihisa Kaneko, Shohei Watanabe, Takako Miyabe-Nishiwaki, and Norihiko Maeda for taking initiative in Reo’s daily care and medical treatments, and for offering continuous support throughout this study. Special thanks are owed to the following people who also participated in Reo’s daily care, and provided us with invaluable advice and information: Masayuki Tanaka, Tomoko Imura, Ikuma Adachi, Shinya Yamamoto, Gaku Ohashi, Yuko Hattori, Tomomi Ochiai, Toyomi Matsuno, Makiko Uchikoshi, Tomoko Takashima, Etsuko Ichino, Koshiro Watanuki, Akemi Hirakuri, Sana Inoue, Laura Martinez, Takahisa Matsusaka, Fumito Kawakami, Chloe Gonseth, Tadatoshi Ogura, Yoshiaki Sato, Takaaki Kaneko, Fumihiro Kano, Christopher Martin, Etsuko Nogami, Suzuka Hori, Yasuyo Ito, Mai Nakashima, Yumi Yamanashi, Yena Kim, Mari Hirosawa, Akiho Muramatsu, Lira Yu, Sou Ueda, Yoshiki Kurosawa, Duncan Willson, Gao Jie, Hirohisa Hirai, Munehiro Okamoto, Kiyoaki Matsubayashi, Takashi Kageyama, Juri Suzuki, Koki Nishiwaki, Atsushi Yamanaka, Akiyo Ishigami, Yoshiroh Kamanaka, Masamitsu Abe, Mayumi Morimoto, Naoko Suda, Takayoshi Natsume, Seitaro Aisu, Rui Hirokawa, Hanako Sasaki, Sakiko Kuramoto, Yasushi Furuhashi, Yui Fujimori, Shizuka Godjali, and Kogami Takase from the PRI; Koji Ohata from the Graduate School of Medicine of Kyoto University; Keisuke Hirami of Kawamura Gishi Corp.; and Mitsuo Tagami of Osaka Rosai Hospital. Support for this study was provided by the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University, a Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (No. 23220006, 26540063 and 15H05709 to MT, No. 19700245, 23700313 and 15K00204 to MH); Benesse Corporation; and Research Fellowships of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for Young Scientists (No. 13J00801 to YS).


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoko Sakuraba
    • 1
    • 2
  • Masaki Tomonaga
    • 1
  • Misato Hayashi
    • 1
  1. 1.Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyamaJapan
  2. 2.Japan Society for the Promotion of ScienceTokyoJapan

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