Before we enter any chimpanzee enclosure, all staff and volunteers that are participating in cleaning must positively identify all seven chimpanzees and make sure the appropriate doors are closed and locked. This is part of our safety protocol so there is no chance that a chimpanzee shares the same enclosure as a human. When new trainees come in, they must learn to identify each chimpanzee by their physical characteristics. It is important that they not rely on circumstantial evidence (such as knowing that Foxie often holds a doll or Negra sleeps with a blanket over her head), because other chimpanzees have been known to behave in a similar fashion and this could lead to a mistaken identification.
Today while walking around the hill with Jamie, I heard rustling in the bamboo grove. I couldn’t immediately identify the chimpanzee, but I could tell they were getting a snack. It reminded me of how challenging it can sometimes be to identify the chimpanzees, especially for a new volunteer or a first time blog reader. I chose a couple photos from my walk that give hints to the identity of this bamboo forager.
The first clue is a circumstantial hint (not a strict rule for identifying this chimpanzee). This chimpanzee is an avid runner and athlete. She (or he?) is often seen sprinting and climbing around Young’s hill. In the climbing photo you may catch a glimpse of a freckled chin…
The second clue is a physical characteristic of this chimpanzee. She (or he?) has a “square” stature and we often say it looks like she (or he?) has “no neck” because of the way it looks like her head sits directly on her shoulders.
And the identity is…..