The season of grass snacking has begun! Yesterday afternoon, Elizabeth and I caught Negra sitting on the Young’s Hill picking handful after handful. It’s a little early for the full bounty of wild plants to appear, so we still get to look forward to the time when we find her further up the hill, picking mouthfuls of prickly lettuce. This morning the Queen wandered outside, just so she could take in the view from her usual outdoor platform. We can’t get enough!
Missy Chimpanzee, AKA Little Miss
Favorite foods: TOMATOES! 🍅🍅🍅🍅🍅🍅!!
Special talents: Speed demon, master politician, tight rope walker
Favorite place to nap: Up high on a platform, usually close to Annie
Favorite activities: Sprinting on Young’s Hill, eating tomatoes, and playing with friends
Favorite food puzzle: Kongs
The arrival of spring means more time is spent exploring the 2 acre outdoor enclosure known as Young’s Hill.
We were so happy to see bright blue skies and sun this morning and most happy for the chimpanzees! Everyone headed onto the hill after breakfast, some shoveling their last servings in before leaving and some taking the last bits to go. Almost everyone went straight for the climbing structures at the top of Young’s Hill. They look so tiny up there:
Annie joining Missy:
Foxie and Jody (if you squint you can see that lip of Jo’s!):
Burrito looking cute, as he does:
And then this happened today. As some of you may have read in recent blog posts, Jamie has added another requirement for her walks with her caregivers. Now in addition to us wearing the boot du jour on our walks, we are often asked to carry her beloved boot books and photos of boots with us. Today before going on two walks she slid these photos out for us to bring along and at least on our walk, stopped midway asking to see them and compare them to the boot she asked me to wear (which looks much like the one in the photo). PLEASE NOTE: The name of the boot in the photo!! This woman!! 🙂
Jamie was in for quite a surprise today. A very kind friend sent Jamie a package of her favorite things. There was a folio and bag filled with pictures of boots, pictures of Jamie wearing boots, books of other primates, and a calendar of some oh so cute pit bulls! Jamie was satisfied all day! So satisfied that I have barely seen her. Like guys, she didn’t even ask for a walk today! On top of getting such a great package, Jamie also got to supervise activities going on in the new expansion area. Jamie had a really hard time choosing between lounging in her extravagant nest and enjoying her new gifts or observing what was going on in the other room! Watching the chimps get excited about their favorite things always warms my heart. Enrichment really does help these 7 chimpanzees’ lives. So thank you everyone for your support!
I mean doesn’t this just scream Jamie:
Jamie perusing the goods:
Jamie incorporating her favorite things of the day into her nest:
Time to relax:
A look at her amazing and intricate nest:
However, there were people unsupervised on the job so Jamie had to go back to work:
And one extra photo of Jody laying all sprawled out:
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.
The sanctuary is located in the Cascade mountain range near the base of a relatively small peak known as Lookout Mountain. Missy sees this as both an opportunity and a responsibility.
The chimps have two acres of outdoor space to roam but they spend much of their time on the elevated platforms taking in the view.
Railings on these platforms serve different purposes, depending on whether you are a human or a chimp. Do not try this unless you have opposable toes.