As you might imagine, routine is very important for the chimpanzees, especially after spending decades in the uncertain environment of labs. We all feel a little better knowing what to expect from our environment and the other beings in it, especially when someone else might have certain control over a situation that we don’t. One example of the chimpanzees’ routine here at CSNW is how we invite them to move from one area to another so that we can clean their enclosures. After we clean the chimpanzees’ play room in the morning we scatter a treat for them to forage for when they are given access to the room again. The chimps know to expect this and as they see us nearing the end of cleaning they start getting excited and want to see what we’re are going to put out for them. This not only helps us encourage them to move to different areas, but also gives them something to look forward to as well as to encourage their natural foraging behavior. But it’s always the chimpanzees’ choice to leave an area or not and if someone wants to stay where they are, well then, we just wait it out until they are ready to leave the area.
Today we decided to give the chimps a special treat by putting out entire heads of lettuce. For whatever reason, the chimps get pretty excited over lettuce in general and of course, it’s extra exciting to be able to have a whole item to yourself as opposed to pieces (kind of like me and chocolate bars, for example).
Jamie, enjoying her lettuce and mildly tolerating the paparazzi:
Despite it being an exciting forage item, the chimpanzees were all generous with one another and at some point, choosing to share their spoils with each other. In this photo, Jody had just asked Jamie for permission to have this lettuce and you can see her glancing to the side where Jamie is sitting out of frame:
Unfortunately, the light wasn’t cooperating for pictures of Negra but I can tell you that she had so many heads of lettuce that she had to scoot across the floor on her bottom all the way back to her nest because her hands and feet were full! Here is Burrito cautiously reaching toward Negra’s stash which she kindly allowed him to do:
Foxie finds some blueberries:
Annie scooped up her lettuce and headed for the greenhouse. But her plan to avoid the crowd failed and she found herself the center of a lot of food peering. Foxie is in the background here:
Foxie and Jody were very persistent in their attempts to convince Annie to share. But Annie was equally persistent in keeping her lettuce for herself. Even if she had to enjoy it in a rather awkward position (you can see Jody waiting patiently behind her):
Annie was surrounded as Foxie continued to peer from above:
Annie eventually did share her last bites with Jody and Foxie. It was probably all the “peer” pressure (sorry, I couldn’t resist). I didn’t catch any photos of Missy because she was smartly cornered away in the top of the playroom, out of sight. But in the end, everyone was able to enjoy some lettuce, whether they found their own, covertly took it from someone else, or found a friend in an altruistic mood.