Today was all about hustle.
It began with few solid hours of continuous serving, shifting, checking, cleaning, and enriching. The morning team of volunteers (Keri, Jon and Miranda) made sure that tasks got done swiftly and thoroughly. The Playroom was scrubbed and disinfected, the meals were prepared and served, and the laundry was washed and dried. The vibe was contagious. Enthusiasm was in the air.
People went back and forth like worker bees droning around a hive. It was honestly a bit difficult to keep track of all the humans going from place to place, carrying out tasks and coordinating with each other. The staff spent the day furnishing the new chimp areas and attending meetings, Dr. Erin swung by for a visit, volunteer Lizz stopped by to serve the chimps’ lunch, volunteer Erin came in to prepare dinner and enrichment, and the whole team even found time to prepare some firehose for enrichment projects. Everyone was on a mission.
The bustle around the Chimp House continued through the afternoon and well past the chimps’ dinner, so I felt relieved when the chimpanzees allowed me to close off Young’s Hill, turn off the lights in the Playroom, and begin locking the Chimp House doors for the night.
My relief was short-lived, however, because Jamie wanted something. There she was, an ape silhouette behind the Playroom caging, gesturing at me to bring her something. I checked to see if she wanted boots, then books, then books about boots. She insisted on having something else.
I sat down near the caging and gave her a long plastic tool which she used to groom my shoelaces, inspect my tattoos, and poke at my freckles. She was entertained for a couple of minutes, but the diversion subsided and she began to demand something else. I took off one of my Timberlane hiking boots and managed to wiggle my foot halfway into a woman’s leather cowboy boot, which she seemed to find unimpressive. I even reached for a children’s book about monkeys jumping on a bed and read it aloud, showing Jamie the pictures as I went. I altered the story to make it about Jamie going to bed while I locked up the building and went home. She was not amused.
We caregivers always work in teams, and I soon had to ask caregiver Katelyn for help with appeasing Jamie. We rummaged around the kitchen and enrichment bins, trying to see the Chimp House from Jamie’s perspective and identify the object of her desire. Boots? Nope. Dolls? Meh. Another grooming tool? (-_-). Troll scarves? Closer. A raspberry? Close enough.
With Jamie (temporarily) satisfied by the tiny red raspberry, we quickly said “goodnight” and retreated from view.
There aren’t many captive chimps who demand as much from their caregivers as Jamie does. This weekend was fast-paced and full of activity, so it’s only fitting that Jamie gave us a little extra work on Sunday evening. We’ll see what she has on the itinerary for tomorrow.