I have to really hand it to J.B. for his greenhouse design and Gary from Sage Mechanical for putting it all together plus adding some special touches.
These new greenhouses are truly a chimp’s dream.
Yesterday was the first day that I was cleaning in one of the new playrooms with the new group of six chimpanzees on the other side of the windows in a greenhouse. I snapped some quick photos on my phone through the window to give you a sense of the chimpanzees’ perspective.
All of the new six like to take advantage of the vertical space and can often be found up high on the benches at the edges of the greenhouse. There are some great spots to observe the neighbors.
Cy even took a minute away from his magazines to watch Willy B in the Courtyard today:
At Wildlife Waystation, the indoor space for the chimpanzees was much smaller than at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, and they spent most of their time in their concrete-floored, chain-link fenced space. We were all pleasantly surprised that they walked on the grass in their new greenhouse habitats right away. The grass is an experiment for us in these new spaces, one that so far is working well.
Though there are many differences, the greenhouses are probably most similar to what they are used to at Wildlife Waystation. During the day, there is usually at least one chimpanzee out there, and sometimes all six of them are in one greenhouse or another. During their first week they were in the greenhouses well after we had closed up for the night.
Last night around 7:30, I was outside wandering around. The sanctuary property was full of activity. There was a doe grazing in the pasture near Young’s Hill. The bovine family had gotten up from their daytime shady spot and they too were spending the cooler evening hours grazing. Ground squirrels and the occasional marmot were scurrying about, always in a hurry. The cliff swallows that have taken over the eaves of the new addition to the chimp house were soaring and dropping and diving, undoubtedly getting their dinner of insects.
As I approached the chimp building, however, there wasn’t even the hint of anyone stirring. I walked around the outside of the fence behind the new greenhouses and did not see a soul.
It made me feel disappointed for a fleeting moment, because it’s nice to see the chimps among the bamboo and logs and grass, with the sky as the backdrop, but then I smiled. Sometimes I even have to remind myself that it’s not about what I want or what I think they should be doing; it’s about giving them choices and letting them figure out what they want.
I pictured all six of them–Cy, Lucky, Gordo, Terry, Rayne, and Dora–sleeping soundly in their nests made of blankets and paper, in the special spot they chose for themselves, indoors in the new playrooms, perhaps with a newfound sense of safety and security.