Today’s weather was wild.
The morning began just as yesterday ended: with golden sunshine and unseasonably high temperatures. The cattle, despite their provisioned hay, were basking in the sun and nibbling on the fresh grass that is just starting to take over the pasture.
The only indicator of trouble was a distant wall of clouds sweeping down the valley from the northwest. By noon, however, the skies over the sanctuary grew misty and the breeze picked up. Now, as I sit here hammering out this blog post in the foyer of the Chimp House, snowflakes swirl past the windows and gusts of wind howl overhead. Like a boxer lifting themselves back to their feet after a brutal knockdown, this winter let us know that it isn’t ready to quit just yet.
Fortunately, we caregivers had checked the forecast and expected the sunny morning to give way to a blustery afternoon. As soon as we opened up the building, served the morning medications and confirmed that the outdoor areas were secure, we scattered the chimpanzees’ breakfast on Young’s Hill as an outdoor forage, taking advantage of the day’s most agreeable weather. The colorful spread included tangerines, pears, and some pineapple tops (the larger chunks of which went into their daily smoothie).
Since only one group of chimps can safely access the Hill at any given moment, Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy and Negra went out first. When everyone had gathered up the scattered food, Jamie did her usual patrol of the enclosure’s perimeter and Burrito went inside to goof around with the other chimps and us caregivers.
Meanwhile Honey B, Mave and Willy B enjoyed the same breakfast indoors and got the opportunity to use the Courtyard later, just before lunch. Per usual, only Willy B chose to venture out into the open space; the females chose to hang out in the chute and watch the caregivers do chores inside. Honey B was even kind enough to sit still while I took a portrait of her. In exchange, I showed her some chimp photos that I still had on my memory card, including the ones of her. If Honey B was impressed, she hid it well. Honey B
Apart from the volatile weather, today was busy but uneventful. Sometimes it seems like the chimps prefer their days to move that way, with a full itinerary but without anything too unexpected. The right balance of variety and routine is crucial.