Each night after dinner the chimpanzees receive their food puzzle for the evening. This is typically a pretty exciting time and once everyone has their puzzle they find a quiet spot to enjoy their treats in peace and the chimp house begins to wind down for the day. This evening’s puzzle was frozen applesauce and banana in PVC tubes and I caught Foxie enjoying hers:
When the chimps finish their food puzzles, they usually head straight to their chosen sleeping spot for the night, blankets in tow, and begin making their nests (with the exception of boss Jamie who still has a lot of things to do). But this evening, Foxie decided to hang out as we finished the closing routine and seemed to be enjoying the peaceful time, occasionally glancing out the window next to her as the sun began to sink lower over the sanctuary.
About this time we gave Jamie her “boot package” for the evening. Jamie often requests her favorite “boots du jour” before we leave which we fill with enrichment items for the evening (such as a toothbrush, cup, comb, nail file, scarf, etc) and pass to her through a chute. As she also requested the boots she had me wearing at the time, I happened to be barefoot. And at the sight of bare human toes, Foxie thought it would be a fantastic time to play one last game of chase, interspersed with pirouettes, through the chimp house (never mind that people were settling down to sleep).
After a few minutes of play, we said goodnight to everyone and turned off the lights in the chimp area, answered by the chimpanzees giving nest grunts goodnight in return. Nest grunts are a vocalization that chimpanzees make when they are settling into their nests for the night as a way to check in with each other before they go to sleep. (Admittedly, it’s one of my absolute favorite moments of the day).
As I was closing the door to the chimp area I saw Ms. Foxie head out to the solitude of the greenhouse. I went to say goodnight and found that she had decided to camp out on the top platform, looking out over Young’s Hill, as she held Dora (with some wild hair) close to her. Goodnight dear Fox.