In free-living situations, chimpanzees build night nests in the forest canopy. They make these platform-like nests out of branches and leaves. At the sanctuary, most of the chimps build nests out of the fresh clean blankets that caregivers set out for them each morning after we finish scrubbing and squeegeeing their enclosures. Our trusty washing machine works overtime all day, everyday, as we wash the previous day’s 70 dirty blankets! Since there is no threat from a predator at the sanctuary, the chimpanzees can choose wherever they like (high or low) to build their nests. Interestingly enough, I’ve never seen the chimps nest out on Young’s Hill, so they must feel (understandably) that the added security of the covered enclosures is better suited for lounging in bed. In addition to blankets, the Cle Elum 7 will also incorporate other enrichment items such as toys or natural fibers like hay and grass. The other night I watched Negra eating some cattails in the center of her evening bed. After getting her fill, she tucked them for safe keeping into the folds of her nest. Midnight snack perhaps?
On scorching hot days like today, the chimps find cool places to nest in the shady indoor areas. Here’s Jamie beating the heat in a fresh nest she chose to build on the playroom floor: