If you tuned in yesterday, you read that Willy B has been asserting his desire to disrupt the routine and, instead of shifting for meals, he has one thing on his mind – keeping tabs on the neighbors, we suspect Annie in particular.
Today was a continuation of this trend. Anna, J.B. and I put our heads together yesterday to attempt to problem solve and try to give Willy B what he wants but also ensure we are able to clean their house.
I think I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but I have a blog post percolating in my brain all about how much of what we do in caring for captive chimpanzees is balancing different aspects of welfare and safety.
I don’t know if I’ll ever write that grand post. There’s a hundred examples of this sometimes difficult balancing that we do throughout each day. Rarely are there clear right or wrong answers.
Willy B’s new defiance to the routine illustrates several examples.
Because of the construction happening right now that will give Willy B, Mave, and Honey B more space and variety, we decided to not give them access to the courtyard when construction workers are on site.
There are a few reasons we landed on that decision, but mainly it was about safety. Willy B is still getting used to the courtyard and Honey B and Mave are still curious but not curious enough to take steps outside. The Courtyard is right next to where the construction is taking place. We certainly don’t want any incidents while strangers are in the vicinity.
So, this means that Willy B’s Courtyard time has been lessened and we aren’t actively working on encouraging Mave and Honey B to be adventurous, but rather leaving it up to them for the time being.
Also, the Courtyard was a bit of a quick construction project. It’s not their final outdoor space, rather it’s a stop-gap that we created after the integrations didn’t work out so that Willy B, Mave, and Honey B could have an open-top outdoor space while we continue to work on the expansion for them and for another group of chimpanzees coming from Wildlife Waystation.
In order to create the space quickly, there’s just one electric fence running between the Courtyard and the rest of Young’s Hill – the outdoor habitat that the group of seven access. With just one fence between them, we don’t have both groups outside at the same time. This means we have to balance the needs, desires, and welfare of each of the individuals in the two groups when allocating outdoor access.
This is temporary. Both groups will one day have large open-top habitats, but right now we have to work with what we have. And there’s always the possibility of Mave and Honey B never (or take years to) get accustomed to the big open outdoors. So, part of our future plans include a large enclosed outdoor space too. Balancing. Balancing.
Our routine lately has been going along swimmingly for the most part. There was that one day a couple of weeks ago when Willy B decided to camp outside. Anthony’s post that day covers some of this same material I’m relaying here. At the time, that incident was an anomaly and didn’t impact the cleaning routine. Willy B’s decisions this week, however, are putting a wrench in the routine.
Today, I opened up the Chute first thing in the morning, hoping that Willy B would get his fill of monitoring the other group / watching Annie, and would then come in for breakfast so we could clean. I realized at the time, of course, that this was wishful thinking. He chose not to shift for breakfast. And today Honey B decided to join him in his keeping-the-humans-on-their-toes mission. Mave had a fabulous breakfast and was in high spirits all day, inviting the humans to play chase whenever she could catch our eye.
Based on Willy B and Honey B’s decision, I changed up the routine a bit, eventually closing Willy B in the Chute so that we could clean all of the front rooms. Happily for everyone, it was a beautiful sunny day, and he was quite content napping at the top of the Chute.
With the construction crew off, I decided to wait until after lunch to open up the Courtyard so that Willy B could have some extra time out there, if he chose.
Anna and I took turns hanging outside with him most of the afternoon.
It wasn’t so much that he wanted to be in the Courtyard as he did not want us to eliminate the option of him being in the Courtyard, so the few times Anna or I approached the controls to close the door, he would move from the Chute to the Courtyard.
It was nice to be able to give him this choice and it allowed me to do a little photo study of this man of mystery.
Eventually, he let Anna close the door and he came inside just before dinner. Whew!
I had a decision to make now. It was right before dinner, but the seven hadn’t been outside on the hill since this morning. They probably would have been just fine getting dinner and ending the day, which would make things easier on the humans. On the other hand, if they could have twenty minutes or so of outside time, that would be nice.
You can probably guess what I decided to do.
The question now was whether Jamie would allow me to close the hill after dinner. Jamie is controlling by nature and often chooses when the caregivers go home by sitting in the doorway to the hill, knowing full well that we won’t leave until all of the chimps are inside for the night.
After dinner, Jamie looked at me and ran outside. The gig was up, there would be no closing of the door; we were going to walk. Actually, a walk was not exactly what she had in mind. I had to get the gator from the barn so we could race.
I have to hand it to Jamie, she knows how to end a day.
Willy B also did not want a door closed during dinner – the door to the Chute. Eventually his stomach and curiosity made the decision for him and I closed the door while Anna passed out grab bags.
Now everyone is tucked in and sleeping soundly, and I’m awake-dreaming about the new spaces taking shape for Willy B, Mave, and Honey B and new chimpanzees and all of the ways they will be able to choose to keep the humans on their toes.
Here’s some exciting progress on the construction.
Thanks for tuning in to today’s blog! Happy Thanksgiving week to everyone.