Positive Reinforcement Training

Training Tales: Working Out with Cocoa Puff

Chimp Haven
Chimp Haven October 11, 2018
Cocoa Puff Chimp

Chimp Haven retirees are trained, using positive reinforcement, to participate in their own veterinary care and individualized wellbeing plans. Chimps can be trained to show care staff a scratch on their arm, to take an injectable medication (such as insulin), or even to allow for monitoring of more complex health issues, such as arthritis or heart conditions. Although at Chimp Haven the chimps have lots of room to roam and climb, they are just like people and occasionally need motivation to get moving. We address weight management with our Personal Trainer program. 

Chimp: Cocoa Puff, 33 years old, living the Chimp Life since 2016

Personal Trainer: Hannah Jones, Animal Caregiver

About Cocoa Puff

Cocoa Puff

I train with Cocoa Puff, a sweet, sassy, girl who’s full of personality. She’s pretty social, but also enjoys a good nap alone in the sun and time to herself.

Our “workouts”

The long-term goal of my training program with Cocoa is weight management, as we want her to be her healthiest self. Our main focus is increasing her activity levels by incorporating target training to get her moving.

Right now, I’m working on building her interest level in training and teaching some basic body parts. This will help her to be excited about training which will, in turn, give her the most opportunity for success.

When Cocoa chooses to participate in our training sessions, she does a great job and picks things up quickly, but she’s not always in the mood. My challenge, then, is to figure out what will make her the most excited to train and motivate more active behaviors.

Since we’ve started, I can already see improvements in Cocoa’s interest level. She seems more excited to begin our training sessions and interacts longer and longer each time, stretching a little more to reach the target.

Sometimes, when Cocoa is feeling extra energetic and playful, I play chase with her the length of her yard and back (or as much as she’s willing to do). Whenever Cocoa Puff is willing to get moving, I’m more than willing to oblige.


Chimp Haven
Chimp Haven