Behavioral recovery from tetraparesis in a captive chimpanzee

Misato Hayashi, Yoko Sakuraba, Shohei Watanabe, Akihisa Kaneko, Tetsuro Matsuzawa
DOI: 10.1007/s10329-013-0358-2


An adult male chimpanzee living in a captive social group at the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University developed acute tetraparesis. He was paralyzed and received intensive care and veterinary treatment as previously reported in Miyabe-Nishiwaki et al. (J Med Primatol 39:336–346, 2010). The behavioral recovery of the chimpanzee was longitudinally monitored using an index of upright posture between 0 and 41 months after the onset of tetraparesis. Four phases were identified during the course of behavioral recovery. During Phase 0 (0–13 months), the chimpanzee remained lying on his back during the absence of human caretakers. An increase in upright posture occurred in Phase I (14–17 months), then remained at a stable level of around 50–70 % in Phase II (18–29 months). During Phases I and II, the subject’s small treatment cage represented a spatial limitation. Thus, behavioral recovery was mainly mediated by arm muscle strengthening caused by raising the body trunk with the aid of materials attached to the cage walls as environmental enrichment. When the chimpanzee was moved to a larger rehabilitation room in Phase III (30–41 months), the percentage of upright posture constantly exceeded 80 %, except in the 40th month when he injured his ankle and was inactive for several days. The enlargement of the living space had a positive effect on behavioral recovery by increasing the types of locomotion exhibited by the subject, including the use of legs during walking. Rehabilitation works were applied in face-to-face situations which enabled the use of rehabilitation methods used in humans. The process of behavioral recovery reported in this study provides a basic data set for planning future rehabilitation programs and for comparisons with further cases of physical disability in non-human primates.


Chimpanzee, Tetraparesis, Disability, Rehabilitation, Environmental enrichment


This study was financially supported by Primate Research Institute of KyotoUniversity, a Grant-Aid for Scientific Research from Ministry of Education,Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, #20002001 and #24000001 to TM,#19700245 and #23700313 to MH, and Benesse Corporation. We thank thefollowing people for their everyday care for Reo, useful suggestions, andproviding information which enabled our study: Masaki Tomonaga, MasayukiTanaka, Tomoko Imura, Ikuma Adachi, Shinya Yamamoto, Kiyonori Kumazaki, GakuOhashi, Yuko Hattori, Tomomi Ochiai, Toyomi Matsuno, Makiko Uchikoshi,Tomoko Takashima, Sana Inoue, Laura Martinez, Yoshiaki Sato, Takaaki Kaneko,Fumihiro Kano, Christopher Martin, Etsuko Nogami, Suzuka Hori, Yasuyo Ito,Yumi Yamanashi, Mari Hirosawa, Mai Nakashima, Akiho Muramatsu, Lira Yu, SouUeda, Hirohisa Hirai, Munehiro Okamoto, Kiyoaki Matsubayashi, TakashiKageyama, Juri Suzuki, Takako Miyabe, Akino Watanabe, Koki Nishiwaki,Norihiko Maeda, Mayumi Morimoto, Rui Hirokawa, Hanako Sasaki, YasushiFuruhashi, and Naoko Suda from PRI, Koji Ohata from Graduate School ofMedicine of Kyoto University, Keisuke Hirami from Kawamura Gishi Corp., andMitsuo Tagami from Osaka Rosai Hospital. We thank Miho Nakamura fromWildlife Research Center of Kyoto University for providing the video imagesof rehabilitation and Dora Biro for English editing. The present studycomplied with the Guidelines for Care and Use of Nonhuman Primates (Version3) laid down by PRI and with the national laws in Japan.

Supplemental Video 1: Face-to-face interaction between Reo, a keeper (SW, right) and a veterinarian (AK,left). While the keeper is grooming the chimpanzee’s face the veterinarian is applying extension rehabilitation to his leg. They also encourage Reo to extend his leg by gestural and verbal instructions
Supplemental Video 2: Taken on Dec. 19, 2012

Figure 4.: Still image of face-to-face interaction between Reo and human caretakers during rehabilitation

Article Information
Hayashi M, Sakuraba Y, Watanabe S, Kaneko A, Matsuzawa T(2013)Behavioral recovery from tetraparesis in a captive chimpanzee Primates, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 237-243.
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