The chimps had an absolute banger of Valentine’s Day party.
There’s a lot to be said about this strange holiday that I won’t say here (although I encourage you to read about the event’s namesake). To us caregivers, however, Valentine’s Day is yet another great excuse to give special treats to the chimpanzees.
My morning began with a safety patrol around Young’s Hill, the chimps’ outdoor enclosure, although the fresh snow made the short walk into an adventure. The valley was veiled in gray clouds that quelled any hope of a visible sunrise. It was surreal to see the climbing structures buried in snowdrifts. Far below, I could see J.B. plowing the sanctuary’s driveway yet again.
Back in the Chimp House, everyone else got right to work. While Katelyn shoveled off the sidewalks and stairs around the building, Chad got right to work in the kitchen. As the Enrichment Coordinator, Chad’s the de facto Party Planner, and he had a big spread in mind for Valentine’s Day brunch. The meal consisted of red-colored foods (diluted Gatorade, sliced blood oranges, whole strawberries) and some special heart-shaped banana pancakes made by Patti, one of our amazing volunteers.
When the chimps saw these platters from their vantage in the Playroom, they lost their minds in an excited frenzy. They were all overwhelmed (in a good way). Foxie was the craziest, stomping around and grimacing, until Jody reassured her by gently touching her backside.
As we prepared the Greenhouse for the celebration, the chimpanzees milled around the Playroom, peeking through the windows as they passed by each like some sort of primate carousel.
Once we humans were safely out of the Greenhouse, I opened up the doors so the chimps could feast. They immediately diffused around the enclosure, floor to ceiling and wall to wall, foraging for all their favorite bits of the brunch platters. It was difficult for Chad and I to take photos because they were so busy (and the layer of snow on top of the Greenhouse prevented sunlight from getting in).
On the other side of the building, the chimpanzees weren’t as excited about brunch (which is surprising because they’re Millennials). Honey B and Mave were actually content to stay downstairs all day, so that’s where we ended up serving their meals. They seemed to be feeling well, but the chimps always have a choice to stay where they are (thus declining our generous offer to clean their enclosures). Eventually, they all got to try Patti’s banana pancakes (which the loved) and then settled down for some grooming, napping, and play with caregivers.
Mave relaxed and groomed her friends while Willy B watched Shrek (three times in a row) and frequently checked in on the neighbors. Honey B spent most of the time following caregivers around, playing chase and grooming snow off their boots through the caging. She was always at the window or caging whenever I walked by, so we continued the tradition of playing tag between the windows of the new Playrooms. If paying attention is the only requirement for someone to be called a “Valentine,” then I think Honey B has earned that right today.
Of course, while Honey B may be my “Valentine” today, our supporters made it clear that all the chimps are loved. Diana shared a video yesterday to celebrate this special occasion with the sanctuary’s family, We even had TWO sponsors for this day of sanctuary, the second of whom is particular enamored with this handsome gentleman.