The other day, Jamie was quietly taking in the view from Young’s Hill.
As Jody passed by, the two of them noticed something in the grass.
Young’s Hill is home to many other critters besides chimpanzees. Bugs, birds, garter snakes, and squirrels all try lay claim to these two acres, but they often run into trouble with their seven noisy neighbors.
You wouldn’t normally expect chimpanzees to be scared of creepy crawlies. Wild chimpanzees hunt and eat a variety of animals, which can include birds, reptiles, insects, and small mammals (even other primates), depending on the community. But the Cle Elum Seven are not wild. Physically, they are the same as their wild cousins, and they share many of the same behavioral traits, but they lack the culture of a wild community. And given their histories, they haven’t had much personal experience with the great outdoors either. So what might be seen as food by a chimp in Gombe might be feared by a chimp in Cle Elum.
Jamie certainly likes to kill, which shouldn’t surprise those of you that have gotten to know her through this blog. However, she has a good instinct for self-preservation and she still hasn’t quite figured out which animals fight back, so she often approaches cautiously. In fact, we sometimes liken her to a pointer, because she will stop dead in her tracks with one arm and one leg up. But rather than directing someone else to the prey, I always feel like she’s thinking…If it gets me, at least I’ll still have two good limbs.
Thankfully, it usually ends up being a wild goose chase, as it did in this instance. The field mice quickly scurry back into their holes and the birds effortlessly fly away while the chimps are still trying to get up to speed.
This type of enrichment can’t be beat – especially when no animals are harmed in the process. Captive chimpanzees will always require some kind of artificial enrichment, but there’s nothing like the unpredictable and often exhilarating enrichment that exists in the natural world.