We’re nearing the end of the chimps’ ninth winter here at CSNW and while chimpanzees aren’t naturally cold weather animals, they have adapted quite well. When the first snowflakes fall each year, the chimps food grunt in anticipation of the endless snow and ice snacks that winter brings. As temperatures begin to plunge, they make cozy nests on the heated playroom catwalks and bask in the radiant warmth of the greenhouse.
This winter, however, is really testing the patience of the chimps and their caregivers alike. While most of the country is enjoying an early spring, our tiny little corner of the Pacific Northwest has been stuck with temperatures 15-20 degrees below average for months on end.
But that just makes each glimpse of spring that much more enjoyable.
As the snow melts, more trails are uncovered. The chimps launched out the door this morning knowing that more of Young’s Hill would be open to exploration. Burrito always knows how to make an entrance.
Females often greet male chimps with a submissive crouch, particularly when those males are exhibiting signs of physiological arousal like piloerection (hair standing on end). This, I believe, is not so much a sign of respect as it is self-preservation. You don’t want to get run over by a male chimp in full display.
For chimps, emotional moments are almost always shared through touch. As Robert Yerkes once said, “One chimpanzee is no chimpanzee.”
Missy and Jamie learned to navigate the hill using the fire hose vines years ago, but now others like Jody and Annie (pictured here) are joining in.
After touching nearly every fire hose and climbing almost every structure on the hill, Jamie seemed thoroughly satisfied.
Foxie and Burrito were not content to only freeze their butts off in the snow, so they made snowballs and ate them too.
One of Annie’s favorite places to sit is high up on the edge of a beam looking out over the Yakima River valley. Sometimes she closes her eyes and tilts her head up to the sun. I imagine that she, like us, enjoys feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays on her skin and seeing the patterns that the light plays on the back of her eyelids.