If you read J.B.’s blog post yesterday, you know that we’ve had quite an interesting development at the sanctuary. Negra, who normally ignores enrichment, has taken a shine to troll dolls, which up until now have been Foxie’s “thing.”
An unrelated fact that you may have noticed if you’ve been with us for a while is that Negra is not as often pictured participating in forages on Young’s Hill as the other chimpanzees. Sometimes Negra decides not to join the group on the hill for forages. We are not entirely sure why this is, and we are trying to figure it out right now (more on that later).
The new development today is that Negra took a troll doll with her to forage on the hill!
It certainly seems that Foxie is able to get comfort from her dolls that she carries everywhere – a kind of security blanket, and perhaps Negra is experiencing something similar with the dolls now.
This is a not-very-good photo of Negra, with the troll doll in her right hand as she is walking back to the greenhouse with a mouthful of lettuce:
Here is Negra passing Foxie (her inspiration?). I like the way that chimpanzees, even when there is lots of room (like 2 acres), will go out of their way to have physical contact:
I was excited to get this photo – you can see Negra’s hand around the troll and Foxie’s around a Dora as they walk in opposite directions:
One of the many things that I love about Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is that all staff caregivers meet twice a month to talk about the chimpanzees and raise concerns or even just share stories. One of our recent topics has been Negra’s reluctance to participate in forages. For a while, every time that Negra did not forage with the group, we would give her a meal in the greenhouse or inside the building. But then it seemed that she wasn’t even considering going onto the hill, perhaps because she knew she would get her own private picnic. She does sometimes show anxiety about going on the hill, and we don’t want to cause her to miss lunch if she is responding out of genuine fear.
However, we do want to encourage all of the chimps to experience everything that the sanctuary has to offer, to get exercise, and to work on overcoming situations that might cause a little bit of anxiety. So, a few weeks ago we decided to try not giving Negra a private meal if she didn’t at least make a move to participate in the forage. This may be providing her the encouragement that she needed to join the group in foraging.
At our last meeting we decided to start recording the different factors that may be influencing Negra to choose whether or not to participate in forages on the hill. But now we might just have to add one – whether or not she has a troll doll with her!