As many of you know, Jamie loves projects. She appreciates a challenge, and seeks out opportunities for doing things “the hard way.” It’s really the opposite of most people’s instincts, because laziness is almost a default—we ask ourselves to find the quickest way to do things which require the least amount of exertion. Conserving energy might be the ultimate cause for this instinct, but in any case, it’s how most animals (humans included) operate. Jamie, however, has other things in mind. She wants to challenge herself.
Lately, when I serve breakfast, I have a little routine with Jamie. I give her a cup which she pins against the fencing, and then I place her servings in the bowl. So as I hand fruit pieces to the mouths or hands of the other chimps, I put Jamie’s in her bowl and she spends time fishing the piece out of the bowl. Once she gets the slice, she sort of leans the bowl my direction so I can refill it. Doing things the hard way tend to just make her happy. It’s awful to imagine the trauma she must have experienced from boredom in her previous life in biomedical research.
We can’t ever make up for what she must have gone through, but we try to give her as many challenges and projects as we can to keep her happy. Sometimes her projects come from surprising places—like today, I caught her playing with this enrichment toy for quite awhile. The small poles could be pushed through the holes in the wood center, and she would do just that and then flip it over and start again. The thing I found interesting was her technique—rather than just using her fingers to push the poles, she used another pole as a tool. You can see in the video just how precise she was with each push.
After taking some video of this activity I showed it to Jamie, who was interested in watching herself for a brief moment before returning to her project (watch until the very end to see that bit).