We’ve reached the time of year where the days are still warm but the mornings are cold enough to remind you that summer’s days are numbered. When I arrived at the chimp house this morning I had trouble finding Negra. After calling her name a few times, she poked her head out of this mountain of blankets in the Greenhouse just long enough to greet me with a few soft grunts.
Before long, a breeze had cleared out the wildfire smoke that had settled overnight and things began to warm up. Jody and the gang took to the hill to enjoy some sunshine.
The chimps had a surprise treat at lunchtime. Volunteer Patti brought watermelon and Field Roast veggie dogs so that the chimps and their caregivers could have an End of Summer party.
Foxie was still on the hill with Jody when lunch was brought out. When she came back and saw what was on the tray, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Without context, the behaviors and body language of fear and excitement can be difficult to distinguish in chimpanzees. Foxie grimaced, baring all of her teeth, and sought reassurance from the other chimps and her caregivers. When chimpanzees are overwhelmed with emotion, good or bad, they seek comfort in their friends.
It was also Patti’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Patti!). We wholeheartedly endorse this idea of bring food to us on your birthday, Patti, and hope that it is the beginning of a new trend wherein anyone who has a birthday brings us lunch.
Even party lunches have to end with bags of primate chow, lest we upset The Queen. By lunch, Negra had shed all of her blankets except for the bare minimum needed to maintain a sense of comfort and security.
Chimps nibble on certain foods, while other foods are almost always stuffed into their mouths as though they are trying to set a Guinness record. Primate chow makes excellent wadge material and the chimps often chew it into a thick paste and spit it back into their hand periodically to admire their handiwork. Missy has additional reasons for stuffing her face with chow – it’s much harder for Negra to steal pieces out of her mouth than it would be if they were still in the bag…
Normally the humans around here lament the end of summer but this year feels different. It’s been hot and dry and smokey for too long. We’re looking forward to some gray, rainy days and the opportunity to throw on an extra blanket or two.