The chimpanzees access Young’s Hill through what we refer to as “the raceway,” a short, caged tunnel which leads directly from the greenhouse to their 2-acre outdoor enrichment area. If you’ve been following the blog for awhile, you’ve probably seen us mention how Jamie often likes to stay out late during the warmer months to walk around the hill. One of her favorite tactics to let us know she’s not ready to come inside yet is to sit in the doorway of the raceway so we can’t close it. The chimpanzees all know that we won’t leave them on the hill overnight and wait until they are ready to come in for the evening before closing the door. It’s also one of the chimps’ favorite spots from which to look out onto the hill, the valley below, or just check out what the other chimpanzees might be up to out there, all while staying within close proximity to the greenhouse. It’s also a good spot to assess weather conditions before committing to going out onto the hill. Perhaps the equivalent to poking your head out the door to assess things from a comfortable spot.
Today, as many of the chimpanzees ran out onto Young’s Hill, Annie decided to check the situation out first before making her decision to join them or not. Not so long ago this is where we would see Annie sitting, rocking with anxiety and distress, while her best friend, Missy, explored the hill, not always comfortable following after her. Those days seem gone for Annie now and she typically has no problem venturing out on her own, or sitting peacefully while she makes up her mind as to what she would like to do. She increasingly bases her choices simply on what will bring her pleasure in the moment, as opposed to decisions based on anxiety.
Debbie caught some photos of beautiful Annie, sitting in the raceway, as she watched her friends run out onto the hill, happy and relaxed as she chose to just observe, and with the droopy lip to show it.