There was a lot of activity in the Chimp House on this busy Sunday, but this post just focuses on the happenings in the newer part of the sanctuary’s main building.
In that wing of enclosures, Honey B, Mave and Willy B have continued to settle in and seem to grow more comfortable with each passing day. Mave, of course, is an expert nest-builder and can make herself comfortable in any place, at any time, and with any partner. This was true on her road trip from California, it was true when we introduced her to a group of strangers, and it remains true each and every morning.
During the late morning hours, Mave sprawled out on the heated floor in a beam of sunlight and lazily picked through the remnants of breakfast. She was soon joined by Honey and Willy in what became a massive raft of fuzz. Grooming is done for more than just hygiene and maintenance; it is the glue that bonds chimps together and also serves to alleviate stress. It certainly seemed to be doing all of the above as the three chimps took turns dozing off while gently picking through each other’s hair.
Afterwards, though, the chimps began to act goofy and rambunctious. Lately, Willy B has been making raucous displays using a pink toy car that he can drag and push around the front rooms. Last week, he used this unusual object to make constant noise for the entire duration of our weekly staff meeting. Even with the doors between the chimp area and the foyer closed, we still had to shout just to hear each other. He continued to drag the little car around today, but he seemed to be in a good mood. He interspersed the loud drumming with quick play sessions. During these bouts of play, Willy waits for a caregiver to approach the caging and then skips away with his characteristic double stomp serving as a figurative exclamation mark. I tried to take photos of him and Honey B chasing us around the building, but both were fascinated by the camera and kept trying to groom and kiss the lens.
The day ended with a challenging set of enrichment puzzles that today’s volunteer crew worked hard to stock with nuts, seeds and raisins. Chimps don’t seem to have the finely-tuned dexterity that most humans have, but they still tend to do quite well for themselves and can even learn how to use simple tools for grooming and foraging.The three new chimps were skilled with such tasks long before the even arrived at CSNW, but it’s still fascinating to watch them solve the puzzles in order to extract the valued snacks that are tactfully hidden inside. Today’s smörgåsbord of hanging puzzles included raisin boards, boomer balls, shake bottles, and drop-down puzzles; each type requires a different perspective and strategy, but the chimps are intelligent enough to figure most of them out eventually. The seven original residents are experts at these tasks and even last year’s arrivals are not far behind, so the pressure is on us caregivers to devise novel challenges that also meet our standards for safety and durability. Kelsi recently highlighted some enrichment activities on the blog, and we also curate a public enrichment database on our website.
Provisioning the chimps with a steady stream of enrichment objects, foods and materials is a massive endeavor. For blog readers and Facebook followers, the best ways to ensure the chimpanzees have ample enrichment are to purchase items directly from our wish list or to become a Chimpanzee Pal. As Diana highlighted yesterday, an amazing supporter will be giving us bonus donations for every new Chimpanzee Pal and Bovine Buddy who signs up before the end of this month. Honey B, Mave and Willy B (the three chimps mentioned in this post) are all available to be sponsored. Of course, we appreciate all the generous people who have already made contributions to the sanctuary!
P.S. I mentioned that Mave is an expert at maintaining a constant state of warm comfort. As I sit here putting the finishing touches on this blog post, I can see her silhouette on the security camera. Even with the limited night vision, her Ewok frame and hobbit feet are easy to distinguish. She’s snuggled up in a giant blanket nest on the heated floor of Front Room 7 and her right leg is propped straight up on the caging. She’s one of a kind.
P.S.S. Mave just lazily rolled over and I’m shutting down the Chimp House for the night. It’s easier to leave when you know that the chimps will be safe and warm in their nests until morning. I hope that you all do the same!