Monitoring Quality of Life in Sue Ellen

Quality of Life Assessment, a Good News Story, and a Virtual Conference

Quality of life (QofL) assessment provides an objective measure of well-being in humans and veterinary medicine. QofL assessments are a way to monitor these changes and are essential to ensure best practices and decisions in addressing these issues as they arise, persist, increase, or resolve.

Fauna’s Quality of Life Assessment Program

Fauna Foundation has a quality of life assessment program. We record general information about the chimpanzees’ activity budgets and, as needed, for particular aspects of behavior and health. We began a QofL assessments program in Fall 2018 when Sue Ellen, our 52-year old HIV+ chimpanzee resident, developed a limp and within a few months a complete loss of the use of her legs. A suspected culprit was a tumor with pressure on her spine. For her assessment we measured her alertness and activity. She showed improvement over a period of four months. In Fall 2019 Sue Ellen developed some left leg control and strength. We developed new scoring systems to document these changes with a focus on left leg use and mobility. In Summer 2020 we recorded that Sue Ellen is bearing weight on her leg and beginning to take steps!

QofL vs. Subjective Assessment

Subjective assessment of well-being largely relies on caregivers’ memory and a comparison of the previous days or weeks. QofL measures allow caregivers and managers to objectively and longitudinally monitor changes in sociality, cognition, mobility, and other aspects of well-being. The results can inform and guide the development of care plans and decision making in programs of health care for captive chimpanzees.

Presenting QofL at a Virtual Conference

We presented the results of our quality of life assessment program at the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour, a virtual conference, in Summer 2020. It was our first virtual conference and a great way to reach the scientific community in pandemic times. In a virtual conference, the participant virtually walks down a hallway to the poster session room.


Quality of Life Assessment Virtual Conference Hallway
The virtual hallway into the poster session rooms.


Our Fauna poster was in Room 3, which looked like this:

Quality of Life Assessment Virtual Conference - Room 3
Room 3 with Fauna’s poster on the right.


Within the virtual room clicking on the poster made it larger and readable for attendees. View and download the poster as a PDF here.
Jensvold et al Quality of Life Assessment Poster

Please consider making a donation today to support Fauna’s quality of life assessment program.