It was so, so hard to retrain myself today. After all, it’s the first day of the fourth month of this year, making it → A P R I L F O O L ‘ S D A Y ←, the best day of the year for light-hearted shenanigans.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to come up with feasible pranks around here. We can’t play dramatic jokes on the chimps because so much of their daily routine is done just the way they like it and mixing things up can cause a lot of confusion. We also take safety very seriously, so surprising each other with unexpected circumstances can be risky, too. On top of all that, we’re just too darn busy to go around the sanctuary playing practical jokes on each other and cleaning up the resulting messes.
That leaves one plausible alternative: trying to fool all of you.
I considered writing a fake blog post that would be somewhat absurd but almost believable. The champions of this art form are the writers at The Onion who have made satirical hoaxes into their own brand of journalism. They miss their target occasionally, but most of their stuff is on point. The Onion has been in the game for a long time, giving their staff time to cover all sorts of topics, from politics to science. If you want to read some of their animal-themed articles, I recommend:
“Jane Goodall Announces She’s All About Lizards Now”
“Scientists Successfully Teach Gorilla It Will Die Someday”
“Zookeepers Confirm Pandas Not Mating Because They’re Scared of Messing Up Friendship”
Over the past couple of days, I mulled over some Onion-esque headlines that I could share today in an attempt to prank our blog followers. The actual, verified news in 2021 has been weird enough, giving me some inspiration. For example, I could have posted that:
- We traded the cattle for a herd of goats because… you know.. goats.
- J.B. made Burrito’s “Hey Girl” portrait into an NFT and sold it for $18.1 million
- Missy and Annie are leaving the sanctuary to go on that cross-country road trip they’ve always talked about
- Honey B is dropping her first studio album, titled Soap Bucket, under the pseudonym “Money B”
- The crew divided Young’s Hill into ten smaller enclosures so the chimps can follow social distancing guidelines
The worst idea of them all was one so diabolical that I almost feel guilty for even thinking it up. I genuinely considered telling you all that today’s blog post would be the final one… EVER.
It was nearly perfect, as far as pranks go. Crucially, it’s actually quite believable. Apart from routine caregiving, the expansion has been the main priority for us lately. This growth necessitates fundraising for the new greenhouses, coordinating with contractors, painting and furnishing the new playrooms, and getting the records in order for the six chimpanzees we hope to welcome this summer. We are truly looking for ways to streamline our day-to-day operations to compensate for all the new tasks we’ve added to our schedules, and there’s now a precedent for spending less time on the blog. (In case you missed it, we recently had to post abbreviated blog entries for a few weeks while we participated in virtual training sessions.) My plan was to drop this sad news on all of you and then correct it before we resumed blogging tomorrow. Gotcha!
After discussing my idea with Diana and J.B., I was convinced that this joke could easily go too far. So many people use our social media as their primary window into the lives of the chimpanzees and cattle, whom they love from afar. Despite the tempting lure of April Fool’s glory, I just couldn’t break any of your hearts like that.
In light of all this, you’ll be surprised to know that the rest of this blog post is completely serious. There isn’t a single joke in here. Nothin’ but facts. Unaltered truth, fact-checked by yours truly. Exceptionally honest, through and through.
Besides April Fool’s Day, today was noteworthy for one main reason.
The contractors have finished their work in the new playrooms and these spaces are almost ready for chimps. There are now functioning hydraulic doors from the existing enclosures into each playroom. Notably, the crew had to modify some of the caging in the Mezzanine, resulting in a new “cubby”. Honey B, Mave and Willy B have been taking turns using the odd little space as breakfast nook and nesting cave, among other things. Poor Willy initially seemed nervous to touch the floor in this tiny little space, despite the fact that it’s the same material as the floors in his other indoor enclosures. He brought a plastic stool to sit on instead, limiting himself to a couple feet of head-room.
With the welding complete and doors working, J.B. was able to touch up the paint and Chad has begun hanging firehose “vines” for the chimps to climb on. Mave and Honey B supervised from the downstairs window and the new cubby, respectively. We plan to clean the new playrooms this weekend and then give some of the chimps access to them very, very soon. Stay tuned for updates!
Here are some additional photos of the new playrooms (including one of the vista from the upstairs windows).
Meanwhile, the contractors will begin securing the steel caging to the outdoor greenhouses. It may be difficult to visualize these new areas just yet, but you can trust us when we say that they’re going to be amazing multi-use habitats for Honey B, Mave and Willy B and six new chimpanzees. We already have a foundation and frame in place for these structures, so we’re confident that these spacious greenhouse enclosures will be ready before the summer!
P.S. I’m offering special internet bonus points to anyone who can find the marmot hidden somewhere in this post.