This year, Ai, the chimpanzee, will turn 40 (estimated age), with an equivalent human age of 60. Last week she had a full health check-up. She was found to be in perfect health.
Ever since Ai joined the Primate Research Institute (KUPRI) at the age of 1 (before Japan ratified CITES) she has played a fundamental role in a leading research project exploring cognition and intelligence in chimpanzees. KUPRI researchers have learned a great deal about chimpanzees from Ai and the other chimpanzees here. Ai and Professor Matsuzawa have spent countless hours in each other’s company, a relationship built on trust, consolidated over many decades.
Such a uniquely close relationship means that Ai voluntarily allows Prof. Matsuzawa to give her the anesthetic injection. This entirely avoids the need to use a tranquilizer dart, and so reduces stress to an absolute minimum for Ai. Ai is patient and calm throughout the whole procedure. Prof. Matsuzawa talks reassuringly to Ai immediately before giving the injection and also taps her arm firmly to prepare her for the slight pain of the needle puncture. Ai receives positive reward from Prof. Matsuzawa through praise and comforting contact. The amount of anesthetic was used was moderate. This essential health check-up was completed successfully, without risk. Ai awakened from the anesthesia, looking calm and peaceful, and was reunited her group-mates in no time. It's reassuring to know that Ai’s internal organs are all in perfect working order. We have every hope and expectation that Ai will live to a ripe old age!