We’ve been exploring some pretty big topics lately. Earlier this week I emailed the link to those who registered for the recorded discussion with Jen Feuerstein on introductions/merging groups of chimpanzees, and yesterday J.B. shared his thoughts on the difficult topic of chimpanzee medical procedures.
As a departure from those deep dives into some of the bigger challenges of caring for chimpanzees in captivity, today’s blog post is just a little story from today’s day of sanctuary.
Many of the chimpanzees have favorite dining spots, places where they take their food to enjoy at their leisure. In the greenhouse, Jamie makes a a dining nook out of the smallest and highest windowsill between the greenhouse and the playroom. When I was spot-cleaning the playroom tonight, I found Jamie happily eating dinner in her nook. Though it’s not the easiest place to get to from the ground level where Sofía had served the chimps, Jamie had managed to bring the haul of food to the sill.
One huge advantage that Jamie has being the boss of her group is that she can temporarily abandon her food and generally remain confident that no one will take it. Actually, a lot of conflicts start in her group when someone else attempts to take food that Jamie has either been given directly or that she has decided belongs to her. To Jamie, taking food is a very big misstep that requires an immediate and dramatic reaction, even if, in all fairness, it was not clear that the food was hers. If you live with Jamie, it’s safest to assume everything belongs to her and proceed with caution if you see food that appears to be available for the taking.
Tonight, while in her nook, Jamie spotted a piece of beet on the lower platform, so she left her dinner behind to retrieve it. No one came near her food or the beet that she had claimed.
So she was free to get the bonus beet and traverse back to her nook to finish dining.
As I was closing up for the day, Jamie was motioning urgently to get my attention. When she had effectively secured by gaze, she gestured again and then ran into the greenhouse. I had already locked the human door that gave me access to the outside, but she was very insistent, so I unlocked. I expected that she wanted me to deliver her some snow, but as soon as I entered the human portion of the greenhouse, I saw that there were two pieces of rutabaga on the human side of the mesh outside of her reach. I picked them up and gave them to her, and she rewarded my obedience with a very happy moan before climbing back up to her nook with her second helping.