Chimpanzees spend a lot of time in their nests. In the wild, they tend to bed down at dusk and remain there for about 12 hours until the sun rises again. On average, they sleep for 9 to 10 hours, waking now and again throughout the night and even calling to group members in other trees but rarely leaving their nests.
Here at the sanctuary, most of the chimps follow a similar 12-hour nesting pattern, even though the length of each day here in Central Washington changes drastically with the seasons. On a typical day, the chimps eat dinner at 4:30 and get their evening food puzzles at 5:00. When they are done eating, they begin to make their nests indoors, and almost everyone is in bed by the time we’re wrapping up our workday at 5:30. This is true even in the summer when it stays light outside until 10:00!
Once the chimps are inside for the night, we close off Young’s Hill for security reasons. But if any of the chimps choose to stay outside, two staff members stay at the chimp house until the chimps choose to come back in.
Jamie, as you may have heard, is not like the other chimps. She needs very little sleep, and she has no interest in lying awake in her nest for hours counting sheep. So, being the clever chimp that she is, she figured out that all she has to do is stay outside after dinner or even sit in the doorway to Young’s Hill and, just like that, she has two companions for the rest of the evening.
When she keeps her caregivers here late, she usually does three of four purposeful walks around Young’s Hill, much like her daytime patrols. But eventually, even she grows tired of the walks and it becomes obvious that she’s just killing time to keep her human friends around a bit longer.
On our last walk last night at 8pm, she made a point of climbing every structure on the hill.
She crossed every fire hose bridge.
Finally, she sat quietly at the highest point on the hill and took in the view.
When she decided that she’d had enough, she climbed down and returned to the chimp house.
Even Jamie needs to sleep eventually. Which is good, because her caregivers do too.