Jamie almost always walks around Young’s Hill with a purpose. Sometimes her goal is to lure a caregiver away for some private bonding time. Other times she is eager to race. This afternoon, as I was walking around the hill with Missy, Annie, and Burrito, I saw Jamie emerge from the greenhouse and plot a slow, deliberate course up the hill to her tower. On this occasion, she was determined to see what was happening on the roof of her home.
The roofers were finishing their work on the Phase 2 addition, adding flashing to the six skylights above the new playrooms. While the noise from the construction has been a bit intrusive at times, this did not seem to be Jamie’s concern. I think she just wanted to be in the know. Plus, we know she appreciates a good tool belt.
The chimps have a number of different vantage points from which they can watch the addition take shape. Sometimes the best spot is in the old playroom, especially if you bring your own popcorn (or chow).
Honey B, Willy B, and Mave have front row seats to the show. It’s their new playroom, after all.
At some point I plan to write a post addressing a question from our Q&A post about how we go about designing a chimp sanctuary, but for today, let me just say that chimps always want to know what is going on, so this has to be considered in the design brief for any chimp facility. One of the ways we can accommodate this need is by adding lots of windows, both to the outside and between different parts of the building, so that they can see what’s happening all around them. Our new addition contains twenty large chimp-proof windows for this reason. While we hope to add some simple murals to the walls at some point, anything we paint on the walls will pale in comparison to the enrichment that those big windows provide.
Sunrises and grazing cattle are great, but what interests chimpanzees even more than their natural surroundings is human activity. In fact, as I write this on the computer in the central foyer of the chimp house, I’ve got the clinic doors open so that Honey B can watch. Of all the things she could be doing, she’s chosen to sit in the medical enclosure, which is small and rather bare by design (for safety during anesthetic induction), just so she can keep an eye on the humans.
It’s the same story on the other side, only those guys have a direct view into the kitchen.
If you don’t prep dinner fast enough, Negra will let you know. Hurry up, Anna! (if Negra could speak, she would almost certainly add some obscenities).
When you have two groups of chimps in close proximity, things get really interesting. There’s been a lot of drama in the group of seven lately, and on top of that, Annie is at full swell. So Willy B is consumed with the soap opera next door and he is refusing to shift enclosures so that he can keep an eye on things. Visual access between groups can be incredibly enriching, but it certainly cuts both ways. Hopefully Willy B will return to his senses once Annie is out of estrus. If not, we’ll have an interesting problem to work through at our next staff meeting. If the chimps don’t shift, we can’t clean!
I’ll leave you with a few more photos of the chimps enjoying the view from Young’s Hill this afternoon.
Missy & Annie: