We recently introduced the chimps to their newest food puzzle, these giant firehose cubes! Volunteers stuffed all 6 pockets on the cubes with a variety of enrichment and hidden treats for them to find, and we put them out as part of a playroom forage. Jessica Mayhew (who wears many hats as CSNW board member/ caregiver volunteer/Central Washington University professor) had her class assemble these puzzles for us to use for many years to come. Many thanks to Jessica and the students in the spring quarter “Apes” class at CWU!
The day after a party means different things for different people. For the chimpanzees, it means continuing to enjoy any leftover treats, especially anything that may have been missed during a Young’s Hill forage, and general lolling about to rest and recover.
Even Negra went out first thing to look for leftovers from the Easter bunny:
Annie and Foxie:
For the humans, the day after a party means party clean-up! Also for the chimpanzees, it means the humans not bothering them with cleaning details. So you may see the dilemma. For the humans, not the chimps. 😉 Case in point, we have been attempting to access and clean the party room, aka the greenhouse, all weekend. Multiple times a day we’ve offered the chimps all manner of exciting opportunities to vacate the greenhouse and enjoy a forage, a treat, a piece of gum in the playroom. Every single time there has been a lot of running back and forth, in and out, and then just as you think everyone has agreed to come inside for a few minutes, there is one person holding steadfast in their choice to decline the humans’ invitation.
Which lately has been this tiny lady:
Along with the support of her good friend, Jody:
I’m not going to lie. We pulled out all the stops. Despite an exciting forage going on in the playroom, here Foxie sat with her dolls in the toasty hot, after-party mess of a greenhouse. I offered, “Chow (a Foxie favorite!!)?” “No, thank you.”….”Half a banana?” “No thank you.” It was then that I got it. If she was turning down some of her favorites, she was truly content exactly where she was. And it no longer became important to try and get in to clean at that time. There’s always after dinner…maybe.
In the end, I fully appreciate that the chimpanzees get this agency over their lives, to choose when and where they want to move to and what they want to participate in. The joy they receive from enrichment such as parties and the pleasure that lingers afterward, or just the contentment that comes with relaxing in a warm greenhouse on a sunny spring day makes any effort on our parts more than worth the effort. And who knows, maybe they are just doing a little “caregiver enrichment” in making us think a little more creatively, outside the box. 😉
And a bonus photo! One of our fabulous volunteers took the unbelievable time and care to make the amazing Easter baskets the chimps had yesterday. Burrito found them to be useful for all manner of shenanigans:
And oh! A bonus bonus photo! We DID make it to the greenhouse to clean while the chimps enjoyed an extra exciting dinner forage and grab bags for enrichment. Jamie was late to dinner when I noticed her searching for some reading material. A food magazine. Which she carried through dinner. The chimps are all curled into their night nests as I write this and I just glanced through the window, surprised to see busy boss lady, Jamie, who is usually still up when we leave for the night, already at rest for the evening. And then I noticed her reading material. She is a surprise and a delight every.single.day.
Personally, I’ve never been much of a collector. I am not very neat, but I do enjoy when my surroundings are clutter-free. There’s a particular joy I get out of getting rid of things and thereby decreasing rather than increasing my possessions. But I’m fascinated by collectors and those who clearly get a unique satisfaction in their things.
It’s all the more fascinating to care for two chimpanzee collectors. Foxie is pretty famous for her doll collection, and most people who have been tuning in to our blog for a while know that Jamie loves cowboy boots. You might have also learned that she can be pretty into books too; when the two combine – books about cowboy boots – well, that must be something akin to heaven for her.
To say that she loves this book might be an understatement or a mischaracterization. Maybe there’s a particular word that describes the feeling collectors have for their things that transcends mere everyday love.
One interesting aspect of both Jamie’s and Foxie’s collections and how they interact with their chosen objects is that they share them with the humans. Jamie wants the staff and volunteers to put on her most cherished boots. Foxie passes her dolls to trusted caregivers for safekeeping and games of toss.
And now Jamie slides her beloved books and magazines under the caging so that we can carry them with us while we follow her around the outdoor expanse of Young’s Hill on her walks or just back and forth through the building.
This is the new routine.
Earlier this week, she passed me the Texas Boots book after we had finished up a session of Positive Reinforcement Training. I expected that we would carry out our usual post-PRT routine and walk around the hill, but it was a little dreary outside. So, instead, I sat on the other side of the caging with Jamie in the greenhouse and turned the pages of the book for her to see. She would focus longer on the images of people wearing boots, and she would nod her head when I turned a page, which is generally Jamie-speak for, “yes, I like that.” After flipping through the book a couple of times, I offered to give it back to her, and she took it.
She tucked it under her arm and continued to sit on the other side of the caging. We sat in contented silence in each other’s company like that for about five minutes (which is a really long time for an active chimpanzee!), until she got up to go about other activities.
It was one of the finest moments I’ve ever had with another being of any kind.
Jamie certainly has a way of implanting the desire to find more things that she likes – to fill her life with these moments of satisfaction that I can’t say that I completely understand, but that I appreciate beyond words.
Her boots, all of them donated to her, have been outgrowing their plastic bins for a while now, and it just so happened that the boot closet we were using for staff cleaning boots was emptied now that we have more space in Phase 1 of the expansion. So, I had the idea that we should put Jamie’s boots and other sundry things in that closet.
It’s in the perfect location because Jamie can see it from the playroom loft.
I had moved Jamie’s things into the closet when Anna was on vacation last week. Anna returned on Tuesday, and Jamie wasted no time in pointing out to Anna this exciting new home for her personal treasures. In case you too want to add to Jamie’s collection, I’ve added some more books to our wish list. When we receive items, we will put them in her closet so she can point them out for us to get for her.
In case you are worried that the other chimpanzees feel left out, I think they are just as mystified by Jamie’s attraction to certain objects as I am. Once in a while, I see Missy flipping through a book, and I even gave one to Burrito last week, which he unceremoniously tossed to the ground and walked away.
I guess you have to be a collector to get it.
We’ve been so busy in the chimp house today! Staff and some amazing volunteers raked out all the wood chips and straw in the greenhouse and replaced it with fresh shiny wood chips and straw! 🙂 What didn’t happen, was capturing any good photos. However, a few days ago I captured some photos of Jamie in one of her secret fort building modes and while they aren’t great quality, I do think they’re endearing. She’s always surprising us with her architectural feats and her desire to occasionally build “secret hideout” forts which are incredibly creative and amusing. Maybe she’s been feeling inspired by her Dwell magazines.
And once again we indulged her need to go incognito and pretended we couldn’t find her. I mean, we all need to hide out now and again. “Jamie?? Jamie? Where are you?”
As J.B. showed in his blog post the other day, for Jamie, springtime at the sanctuary also brings drag racing season. And folks, though we know you just saw a fantastic video of Jamie racing the Gator around Young’s Hill, she continues to outdo herself.
Former staff, now volunteer caregiver, Keri, was with us yesterday and as we were headed back to the barn on the Gator after caring for the cattle, we looked up to see Jamie, hair standing on end in excitement (pilo), stomping her foot and clapping her hands. This is Jamie speak for, “Let’s race!!” So we were off! Be sure to watch for the downhill portion of the track. Pure gold.
Our heaps and mounds of snow have largely turned to heaps and mounds of ice with our recent windows of blue sky and sun, but we still have many spots of powder and icy crystals. With the humans’ persistent belief that each snow storm will be the last, we decided the chimps’ should continue to eat as much snow as possible since it’s going to be spring any day now. Fortunately, the chimps’ seem to agree.
Mother Nature just keeps on giving.