While all of the staff here at CSNW have a great deal of experience with chimpanzee behavior, we obviously can’t get inside the minds of the chimps and know what they are truly thinking. But, my non-scientific side of self sometimes really wishes I could!
One of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked since construction on Young’s Hill began is whether or not I think the chimps know that Young’s Hill is for them. Part of me wants to say “Of course! They must know that everything we do around here revolves around them, right?” I would have to guess that the installation of the climbing structures (which look very similar to the one in their current outdoor area) had to be a good sign for them, but again, we can’t get inside of their heads, so as smart as I know they are, I just cannot say for sure.
But I think we now have a pretty good reason to believe that at least some folks do, in fact, know.
During construction of the raceway (the tunnel that connects the current outdoor area to Young’s Hill), the chimps had to be locked out of the outdoor area. A couple of days later, J.B. was checking to make sure a key worked on one of the locks near the raceway (not the one that unlocked the raceway door, mind you). As soon as he pulled out the keys and walked towards the caging, Jamie, Jody, and Foxie all jumped up and started hugging and breathy panting in excitement! J.B. said that Jody and Foxie eventually walked away, but that Jamie sat at the raceway door gesturing towards him, banging on the cage, and tugging on the door for at least 10 minutes.
So, guess what, they know.
My heart sung when I heard about this! I’m sure part of me knew it all along, but it feels so validating and real now… and makes the wait for the day that they finally go out that much more agonizing!
So, when I took the following photos of Negra looking out towards the work happening on Young’s Hill today, I couldn’t help but wonder “Does she know, too?” I’d be willing to bet she does, and that they’ve all been “rolling their eyes”, so to speak (chimps don’t really roll their eyes), when they heard us discussing whether or not they “know” that Young’s Hill is for them.
No pressure, J.B. 😉
Thanks so much to J.B. and all of our hard working volunteers that have come out to help be a part of making “The Hill” a reality! You guys are going to make Negra’s day!