She’s really smart.
This morning, as I was putting away a squeegee, I accidentally knocked a broom off of the tool rack. I watched it slide to within inches of the playroom caging and before my brain could finish processing the thought that Jamie might be able to grab it, Jamie grabbed it.
Now, the most important thing to convey here is that Jamie really likes to stab and/or threaten to stab humans when she obtains contraband like this. So the first thing you do in this situation is take a big step back. Then you watch helplessly as she tries to knock smoke detectors off the ceiling (a real possibility) and jimmy open every door and window in the chimp house (not going to happen with a broom stick, thankfully).
But today was different. As soon as she had the broom she walked off with clear purpose and intent. And the whole gang gathered behind her as if Jamie had given the cue and the secret plan they had been hatching for weeks was finally called into action.
Their mission: To see inside the new addition.
We’ve given them glimpses into the new quarantine and introduction area connected to their playroom before, but during the construction process we’ve largely kept the door covered with a piece of plywood to protect workers from getting spit on and to keep the building heat in. Clearly we didn’t consult the chimps about that plan, and they were forced to take the matter into their own hands.
Over the years, Jamie has continued to develop the ritual around her walks with staff and volunteers. These days, it goes something like this: First, Jamie selects a boot for the human to wear. Next, they walk around the hill together (on opposite sides of the fence, of course). When the walks are done, they reconvene in the greenhouse area, where Jamie grooms the caregiver and the boot. And finally, later that night, she will ask for the boot back before settling into her nest.
In anticipation of the grooming part of the ritual, Jamie will often grab a suitable tool during the walk and bring it back with her into the greenhouse. Today, Jamie grabbed a large tumbleweed that had blown against the fence and later used it to groom volunteer Patti and her boots.
Bonus Foxie photos:
We’re always on the hunt for new enrichment ideas. Here are a couple simple ones that we’ve recently introduced. Both are Jamie-approved!
Tool use was once thought to be a defining characteristic of the human species.
The chimps were going after a garter snake today. I think that Missy brought it in from outside and then lost her grip on it. The chimps chased it until it crawled into a small space in the caging. I laughed when I saw Jamie with the spaghetti spoon, but it was actually a pretty good choice of tools because she was trying to flush it out from its hiding spot.
The chimps never did get the snake, and Jamie seemed dissatisfied. She spent a good part of the afternoon walking around Young’s Hill, probably looking for more snakes.