Spring is in full swing at the sanctuary! Old friends returned from the long winter and we’ve seen the first butterflies, bees, and even our friend, Ellie, the neighborhood elk is back from her roaming. The air is literally humming with bird flight and birdsong and buds and flowers are finally unfurling under a bluebird sky and warming sun. We’re suddenly supposed to see temperatures in the upper 70’s, near 80 by week’s end. Also springing up over the weekend was the chimpanzees’ brand new play structure on Young’s Hill!
The new structure was funded by donations from HOOT! 2017 from Pat Cattolico, Meg Lunnum, and Richard and Lisa Stuverud, who donated during the event at the Care Corner towards a “new small structure” – J.B. maybe has a different idea of “small” than most people!
With plans and materials in hand, we had an incredible group of volunteers spend their weekend to help J.B. execute his plans. After a great crew on Saturday to include Andy, Drew, John and Ray, we were fortunate to have another amazing bunch to finish things up on Sunday, which included chimp house student volunteers, Caroline, Ruth and Blanca, and members of our local community, Natalie, Greg and the Habitat for Humanity crew! If you saw the Sponsor-a-Day post earlier today you had a glimpse of the building in progress, but here’s a few more perspectives of the process:
Even pine trees and raspberries were planted on the hill (we’ll see if they survive Jody’s adventurous eating habits!).
So with today being our ninth annual honorary “Love a Chimpanzee Day” (thanks to long-time friend of the chimps’, Monica Best), naturally, the only thing left to do was throw a big party! We had a breakfast forage on the structure and the chimps’ had an amazing mix of fresh jackfruit (!), oranges, tomatoes, watermelon, banana, grapes, primate chow, and the cherry on top? One whole fresh coconut placed at the very top of the structure.
When I opened the door to the hill the entire family headed out together with Negra leading the way out of the raceway! While everyone else headed straight for the structure, Negra made a stop at her cabin first to check for treats:
Missy was first up!
Everyone quickly made their way to the top. Here’s Jamie:
Missy with a beloved WHOLE tomato!
Either no one immediately noticed the coconut at the top, or everyone was just played it cool until they saw an opportunity to grab it without attracting the attention of the others. Jody walking right on by (for now):
Foxie and Dora:
Missy and Jamie:
Even Negra made it up the first couple of levels:
Jody and Foxie:
And it was Jody who veeery carefully snatched that coconut! Somehow she kept it together all during the forage, acting nonchalant while keeping an eye on boss lady, Jamie (who being the boss, per chimp society, has the right to claim that coconut from anyone). Once Jody made it back to the greenhouse she could no longer contain her excitement and stopped to give us all a bouncy greeting and then sit with her spoils while making her classic “dinosaur” noises (low moans, Jody style). But she ended up leaving the coconut behind to head back out for more of the forage and who do you think was sooo happy to find that coconut unguarded??…
Burrito!! In the end, Jamie did wind up with it, but by day’s end everyone got to share in a second coconut.
To be honest, we have SO many photos of the construction of the structure, the chimps’ first moments checking it out last night and today, that these are the tip of the iceberg. There will be many more photos in the days to come.
To be able to continually improve the chimpanzees’ home with new and exciting forms of enrichment, to make each year of their lives better than the last, to see so many individuals come together to support the chimps in so many different ways, it’s nothing short of a privilege and honor to witness and be part of. From our hearts, we thank all of you who made this possible for the chimps.
And oh! I almost forgot! What are we going to name this new climbing structure?! We are spinning some ideas around, but we welcome your suggestions for possible names!