Many of you are likely wondering about the risk of the COVID-19 coronavirus to the chimps. This is something we are taking seriously, given our proximity to the known areas of community transmission in and around Seattle. While we don’t know precisely how this virus would affect a chimpanzee, we are determined not to find out. Staff and volunteers are following strict hygiene and disinfection protocols and wearing gloves and masks whenever they are in and around the facility, not just when they are in the chimpanzee areas. Planning meetings usually held in person are now being held by phone. And after consulting with our Direct Care Committee, a committee of our Board of Directors made up of veterinarians and primatologists (including a veterinarian that specializes in infectious disease and global pandemics), we decided to suspend all volunteer shifts for people who live and/or work in the greater Seattle area for the time being. Other restrictions will be put in place as needed as we follow the progression of this virus.
While the humans must adapt to a new way of working, it’s business as usual for the chimps.
This morning, Foxie immediately wanted to play a game with her trolls in the “foot box” (a contraption we built to allow for x-rays of the chimps’ hands and feet).
Lunch was a casual affair. The chimps love to sit in the fire hose swings at mealtime. While the caregivers are willing to squat down to the chimps’ level to serve them food, the chimps prefer to come up to our height and will often move barrels and benches up to the caging to make this possible. I doubt this is out of any concern for our ageing knees but rather to be positioned right at eye level when trying to get our attention for more food.
Burrito took a number of walks around the hill today. At one point, he and Jamie started running, which I took as an invitation to play. However, I soon realized that they had spotted a herd of 13 deer near the top of the hill and they were attempting to chase them off into the woods. Mission accomplished.
The two groups at CSNW spent most of the day in relative harmony, but early in the afternoon Willy B got some ants in his pants and decided to display in the Chute. Screams and threat barks were exchanged but before long everyone was more interested in dinner.
The chimps all have their own individual habits when bedding down for the night – where they sleep, how they create their nests, etc. Honey B likes to make a comfortable bed on the heated floor and then pull the covers halfway up.
Sleep tight, Honey B.