I saw someone recently ask, I think on Facebook, about why Burrito often has a small piece of enrichment with him, either in his mouth or a hand. The truthful and simple answer to that question is we have no idea. It’s just a Burrito thing, like dolls are a Foxie thing, books and boots are a Jamie thing, and magazines are a Cy thing.
Maybe there’s something you have that just makes you feel more you or gives you a sense of comfort. Maybe you have a signature color or a certain style of clothing or a collection of raccoon figurines that people identify you by (no judgement here).
Why are we drawn towards the things we are? It’s a question for the ages (whatever that means).
It’s also a question that an exhibit a few years ago at Central Washington University’s Museum of Culture and Environment attempted to tackle, with the inclusion of “artifacts” from Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. If they do a similar exhibit in the future, perhaps they’ll include an artifact left behind by Burrito too.
This phenomenon of signature “things” also points to the benefit, I would argue necessity, of having a large variety of enrichment that we give to the chimpanzees.
After rejecting all of the other enrichment objects that we offered when she first came to the sanctuary, Foxie found her thing (troll dolls). Now, it’s hard to imagine her without a doll of some sort. How wonderful that we were able to give her objects that have provided her with 15 years worth of joy that only she can truly understand.
The following photos are from today of Burrito lounging in a windowsill with one of his more recent favorite things to carry in his mouth – it’s a piece of wood that he found when the Young’s Hill outdoor area was shifted and expanded.
You’ll often see Burrito with a toy hammer that has a plastic head and wooden handle or with a block of wood. I thought it was special that he found something on his own, rather than something that we chose for him to carry.
The photo at the top of the blog post is Burrito watching some drama unfold this afternoon amongst his neighbors. Enrichment comes in many forms, and watching the live “soaps” through the window is probably Burrito’s favorite enrichment activity of late.