New methods are required to increase our understanding of pathologic processes in wild mammals. We developed a noninvasive field method to estimate the body temperature of wild living chimpanzees habituated to humans, based on statistically fitting temperature decline of feces after defecation. The method was established with the use of control measures of human rectal temperature and subsequent changes in fecal temperature over time. The method was then applied to temperature data collected from wild chimpanzee feces. In humans, we found good correspondence between the temperature estimated by the method and the actual rectal temperature that was measured (maximum deviation 0.22 C). The method was successfully applied and the average estimated temperature of the chimpanzees was 37.2 C. This simple-to-use field method reliably estimates the body temperature of wild chimpanzees and probably also other large mammals.
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