Quality of Life Assessment: The Value of Longitudinal Data in Making the End-of-Life Care Decision for a Macaque (Macaca Silenus/Macaca Nemestrina)
Year of Publication:
|Lindsay Simpson, Julie Grove, Ellen Bronson, Elizabeth S Herrelko
|Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
|animal management, end-of-life decisions, quality of life, singly housed, welfare
Assessing quality of life in animals is an art as much as a science. Despite the use of questionnaires and keeper reports which consider several aspects of well-being, the process often remains subjective. Keepers have unique insights, and anecdotal observations can be enhanced with objective data. We combined the art and science of assessments in this study on a geriatric macaque (1.0 lion-tailed/pig-tailed (Macaca silenus/macaca nemestrina) hybrid), using historic data to inform management decisions. Following the unexpected death of his cage mate, his activity and engagement with keepers decreased, and new concerning behaviors presented. While the zoo worked to identify new social opportunities, we used these data to develop a plan to improve his quality of life (e.g., increase training sessions, enrichment, social interactions). After intense implementation, we saw a significant increase in activity level and engagement with keepers; the frequency of unexpected behaviors suggesting a lower quality of life, however, increased over time. Our data allowed us to objectively compare changes in behavior, enabling the zoo to make the most informed animal management decision possible.