It’s officially mud season, and boy do we have a lot of it this year. Construction on Young’s Hill and The Bray finished too late last year to replant grass in the disturbed areas, so what was dust last fall when the chimps went back outside is now a squishy, slippery mess. One benefit of the mud, however, is finding the chimps’ hand and footprints all over the hill.
Unlike a lot of the animal tracks we find around the sanctuary, the chimps’ fore and hind limb prints are very distinctive from one another, due to the fact that chimps use the middle phalanges (not the knuckle itself but the area between the first and second knuckles) of their hands for walking while, like us, they use the soles of their feet.
Here are some hand prints:
Footprints show the entire sole of the foot with the big toe extending almost 90 degrees from the other toes.
There was a time when most of the Cle Elum Seven, who previously knew nothing but the concrete and bars of their laboratory cages, wouldn’t dream of stepping in mud. Times certainly have changed. It’s not as if they enjoy being dirty, however. When they return from an adventure outside, they promptly clean themselves up by wiping their hands and feet on walls, caging, cardboard boxes, or anything else within reach. And then leave it for their cleaning staff to take care of 🙂