WISH Cage: Freedom of Moving and Foraging
The chimpanzees at the Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University (KUPRI) have been living more of a natural life style from the academic year of 2011.
2 cages, called "WISH (Web for the Integrated Studies of the Human Mind) cage(s)", have been constructed at KUPRI. The WISH cages have a space of 202 m2 that are fifteen meters high, the setup financially supported by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.
Wherever the chimpanzees want to move
Although wild chimpanzees often live in large, 100+ member groups, not every member facing at each other all the time. In the aim to simulate the life style of wild chimpanzees, fission-fusion emulation was made possible by connecting the WISH cages and the outdoor enclosure for our chimpanzees at KUPRI. With this setup individual chimpanzees can freely choose their "habitat" (cage/enclosure) and be with several group members (or stay alone if they prefer) at any given time, like chimpanzees in the wild.
Whenever the chimpanzees want to eat
A computer-operated system set up in the WISH cages enables ad libitum feeding. Any one chimpanzee of the group can come to any of the several touch-screen monitors at any preferred time and operate the computers at their will. Thus, they can obtain food rewards by doing a cognitive task at any time of the day during the 24 hour period. Using the automated face recognition system, we can automatically run personalized tasks for every chimpanzee. Additionally we can keep and accumulate record logs of all chimpanzees' tasks automatically.
Vertical space is essential for chimpanzees. Chimpanzees in the wild spend more than half of their days in trees, up as far as 30m high above the ground. We can observe a variety of natural behavioral patterns above the ground, such as climbing, eating leaves and fruits, making a bed and so on. It is highly recommended to construct some three-dimensional climbing structures in the captive chimpanzees' living environment in the aim to simulate the life style of wild chimpanzees.
We have been working hard to create enclosures that resemble natural habitat in a miniature scale. Trees are one of the most important elements of chimpanzees' habitat. Although it is quite hard to keep outdoor enclosures lush and verdant, it is well worth trying.