On Sunday, the chimps got to use the new door for the first time. We do our best to keep things interesting around here, but the facility itself doesn’t change that often, so the chimps are always very excited and very curious to see the improvements.
Anytime there is a major change, whether in the social group or in their environment, the chimps like to reassure each other and seek comfort amidst the excitement. You’ll notice a lot of greeting, hugging, and submissive behavior in this video (Foxie kissing Burrito, Jody greeting me with a “genital bounce”, Annie kissing Jody, Annie and Missy submitting to Burrito who is off-camera).
We serendipitously discovered that the chimpanzees appreciate having fire hoses hanging just outside the door. The hoses were there previously, but once we installed the door, many of the chimps used them to climb from the door up to the the platform outside without setting foot on the wet ground. That’s one of the strange things about caring for ex-lab chimps (any captive chimps, really). Wet ground is a fact of life for free-living chimps, but it can be unpleasant and even terrifying for individuals who have spent a lifetime indoors. We used to place tractor tires outside so that Foxie could use them as stepping stones, but now we’ll have to hang some more fire hose by the other door.