Chimps have a number of different ways to indicate that they would like to play. If you read this blog regularly, you’ve seen a chimpanzee play face. This face (top teeth covered, bottom teeth exposed, bottom lip drooping) says “Hey, I’m about to slap you in the face and bite your foot, but its all in good fun – don’t take it the wrong way!”
But its not just the face that indicates a playful mood. Quite often, chimps use objects to get things going. For example, Missy sometimes likes to steal a blanket from Annie’s nest, and Annie quickly jumps up and engages in a game of chase. And around here, the wearing of socks is a universal sign that a chimp is ready to play. You can see the look in Missy’s face that says “As soon as I pull this sock up to me knee, it’s go time!”.
Foxie, in all her new found playfulness, has developed a her own unique way of initiating play with her human caregivers, and of course, it involves a troll. She pushes a troll through the caging so that it lands on the floor in the human area. As soon as we pick it up, the game of chase begins. She gets so excited when we chase her with the troll that she will sometimes do standing back flips or climb to the ceiling of the outdoor area and hang upside down while rubbing her feet together. Occasionally, she pushes the troll out when we’re not looking. When this happens, she claps until we notice the troll lying lonely on the floor.
This morning, Foxie must have been feeling creative, because I think she invented the “I have a troll on my head, so it must be time to play” signal.