Chimpanzees are known for their ability to evaluate situations and find some pretty novel ways to handle the task at hand. Everyday, the chimpanzees are provided with numerous items throughout the day as enrichment. One of these items is a long, plastic tube. Jamie generally uses it to reach items just beyond her reach, or to groom the human caregivers. Burrito uses it to play tug-o-war. And every body uses it as a straw when we provide them with buckets of diluted Gatorade. At the end of each dinner service, we also provide the chimpanzees with nighttime food puzzles. The purpose of these puzzles is to exercise their cognitive functions, help promote natural behaviors, and to try to alleviate boredom. And every so often, they surprise us when two-and-two are put together.
Last night’s evening food puzzle were small PVC tubes. The purpose of this puzzle is to promote one of chimpanzees’ natural behaviors: fishing. In the wild, chimpanzees have been found to fish for termites, grubs, and honey. They will find a stick and modify it to suite the situation. They will adjust the length, girth, and the leaves depending on what they are fishing for, and where it is hidden. Here, caregivers put a smear of peanut butter, smashed fruit (bananas, avocados, etc) applesauce, or honey in PVC tubes for the chimpanzees to fish out. The chimpanzee’s are also provided a tool in the form of a chopstick. Some just use their fingers, while others use the chopstick they are provided. Last night, we were pretty amazed that Honey B decided she had an even better tool: the long plastic tube. It was so efficient, she waited patiently for Willy B and Mave (who were using chopsticks and fingers) to be done with theirs, collected them up, and got the peanut butter missed by both of them.
As mentioned before, the chimpanzees use these tubes as straws as well. Usually for buckets of diluted Gatorade or sometimes for their breakfast smoothie. Annie is one who is more likely to use a straw for her smoothie. That is, until caregiver Anthony witnessed her using the tube to siphon smoothie from Jamie’s cup as Jamie was drinking from it!
These chimpanzee people never cease to amaze and surprise us with their actions!
Lastly, an update on Jody. Jody was recovering so well and wanted nothing more to be back with her group, we decided she was well enough to be brought back into the group. She flew into the playroom and was greeted with a sincere hug by Annie.