Today we gave Mave, Honey B, Willy B, and Negra access to Young’s Hill. I am not sure we have talked about this much. Though this is not the first time we have given them access to Young’s Hill, a 2 acre outdoor space. I feel I should also mention that as far as we know the three have not had an outdoor space like this in almost 30 years or maybe ever. So you can only imagine how exciting, but also terrifying and scary this space must be for them. The Hill is a large outdoor area with unfamiliar fencing, ground, and also not knowing if anyone else is out there. The other chimps obviously haven’t been on the other side when they have access to the Hill, but the unknown can be intimidating! Right now Burrito is still alone recovering and the girl gang was inside phase 1 so they wouldn’t be too much of a distraction to the nervous 3 and Negra just napped the whole time.
Our first attempt was almost a month ago, before introductions had started. It did not go the way we had planned or the way I am sure the 3 chimps wanted it to go. We tried to show the chimps not to touch the electric fence. However, the electric fence was foreign and all they have ever really known is that they can hold onto caging. But the “caging” was shocking them and it was suppose to be safe. So there was screaming and they were nervous to say the least. Even with preparation and showing them not to touch, they still touched it, a lot. You might be wondering how we demonstrated this to them. There are many different methods. We pretended to touch the fence and get shocked. We made chimp vocalizations and screamed. J.B. grounded himself and made the fence spark (safely) and screamed as well. When the seven went out for the first time they had a mock test fence to touch so the chimps understood it would shock and J.B. also touched the fence to give them the real effect. J.B. did not want to touch the fence again (weird) and we didn’t feel that the mock test helped the seven not touch the fence, because they also got shocked the first time or two as well. An enclosure is all these three have known and mesh caging is what they are used to grabbing. Even the ground can be uncomfortable, for example, Willy B doesn’t like walking across the wood chips and tries to avoid them. This probably has a lot to do with living on concrete floors for most of his life.
There is a lot of adjustment for Honey B, Mave, and Willy B. We have continued to offer them the Hill when possible. However, they are scared. Honey B did go out again, but curiosity got the best of her and she touched the fence again. Though no one went out today, we will keep trying and hopefully one day they will feel comfortable enough to go out and explore, and not touch the fence as well!
Mave relaxing in the green house:
Honey B a little out of focus, enjoying some sun in the green house:
This photo shows a little bit of how Willy doesn’t like walking on the wood chips. He uses only one foot and tries to get across as fast a possible. Or tries to walk on chairs and enrichment to get on to the platform. This is actually every common for chimps in captivity that are adjusting to new environments. The unknown is scary until they can get use to it.
Negra in a cozy nest. Negra also spent some time grooming with Mave and play wrestling with Honey B.
Later in the afternoon the “Girl Gang” received access to the Hill. The girls and cattle went on a patrol together: