Grooming is an important part of chimpanzee culture and whether in the wild or captivity, chimpanzees spend a lot of their time engaged in this behavior. If you think about it, so do we humans! Chimpanzees will groom each other or themselves to remove dirt and debris, attend to wounds, during times of relaxation, and most importantly to build and maintain bonds with one another. Grooming is key to social interactions and is often used by chimpanzees to gain support and remain in good standing not only in the community, but with higher ranking chimps.
The chimp house was very quiet this afternoon before lunch so I went to check on everyone and found several people grooming Jamie, as she basked in her role as the boss lady. (Clockwise: Jamie, Burrito, Foxie and Jody):
Jamie being groomed by Burrito in background:
Jody appointed herself the paparazzi police and immediately positioned herself next to me, at the ready to poke the camera should I continue to take photos of the boss. Though she eventually decided it was more fun to play a game of tickle (a rare Jody happening!):
Lunch service arrived and after a lot of excitement everyone headed up to the top of the greenhouse. (L to R) Foxie, Annie, Jamie, Negra (barely visible in between the blue chairs) and Jody:
Each of the chimpanzees has their way of attempting to gain the server’s attention, especially when they see something they really want (or want more of). Because Jamie is the most dominant in the hierarchy we typically offer things to her first. And she has no problem gesturing if she wants us to serve something other than what’s being offered at the moment for something she prefers on the tray. She will also let us know if there is a particular piece, or color, of fruit or vegetable she wants. For example, she will ask for red peppers over green if she sees them in the bowl and she refuses carrots that aren’t peeled. She will even gesture for us to return any offending carrots to the kitchen for peeling.
Foxie blows incessantly loud raspberries, Negra claps and sometimes clacks her teeth on the caging, Annie blows raspberries and stomps her feet, Missy shakes her head vigorously, and Jody just positions herself in front of the server. If someone is being served something she wants more of, she will just move in front of them or reach across to take it from the less dominant chimps. (This is all part of a normal chimp hierarchical society.) And then there’s Burrito who shakes, rattles and rolls, with a soundtrack of raspberries for pretty much everything on the menu. Just so we don’t forget he’s there…
Annie above and Burrito below (hair standing on end with excitement):
Missy pulls up a chair for her lunch:
On the other side of the caging was their server today, Whitney, one of our volunteer caregivers extraordinaire, getting a workout. Chimpanzees make for a rowdy lunch crowd.
Foxie decided to eat her lunch with me and made her way back to me with each serving to sit in the sun as I took photos next to her.
First course: tomatoes!
Back again with the second course: green peppers!
And finishing up the meal with primate chow in to-go bags:
Burrito, very pilo (hair on end), is often high arousal during mealtimes. Food is just very exciting if you’re Mr. B:
Jamie headed back inside with her chow to make an lunch nest: