Friday, October 5, 2007

Day 33 -- Time for some spontaneity

Had no trouble re-finding Chimp Haven today -- and they were expecting me!

Linda B, the director, came out to greet me and took me on a leisurely walking tour around the outside perimeter of the yards. While yesterday I had seen the yards looking down from the roof where they connect with the night houses, today I saw them from ground level, looking across the moat at the broad end of the pie-slice-shaped lots.

As we stood there talking, chimpanzees started showing up. First one who, Linda said, never used to wander far from the building. But now here he was coming to see what was going on. Then two more, an estrous female and her suitor, who wasn't going to let her out of his sight. Just as we were about to leave, practically the whole rest of the troop appeared ambling down the paths they had worn in the grass and through the woods. Very neat to be able to watch these former research chimps use this space, much as they might do in the wild.

I also got to see Phase II of the facility on the other side of the property. And I got to meet Sarah, one of the most famous chimps in the (scientific) world, who was the subject of countless studies in cognitive research. Ooo. I forgot to tell her that we were on the same TV program about chimps: Apes R Us, the Scientific American program from a few years ago.

But I had come to work, so I joined Mike and (departing) intern Monica to finish work on a firehose hammock. By then it was time for lunch and I was invited to join the staff at a farewell get-together for Monica.

When we returned we had just enough time to prepare the (several hundred) enrichment treats for Sunday: ants on a log. No logs and no ants, but rather celery sticks filled with peanut butter and topped with a line of raisins. I felt like I had time-traveled back to the 1960s and was preparing appetizers for a very large suburban house party.

As was mentioned in yesterday's post, it was not clear that there would be any opportunity to volunteer at Chimp Haven during the weekend. But it became clear: there would not be. I had looked at the map and figured I might go up to Little Rock, Arkansas, to visit the zoo there where they have chimpanzees (and gorilla and orangutans). Fortunately, I had remembered to bring along the business card of one of the keepers I'd met in March at the Chimp Mind conference in Chicago. I called. Amazingly, she remembered inviting me to visit and we arranged to meet on Sunday when she will be back from her two days off.

It's not far to Little Rock. Maybe 4 hours. So tomorrow will be a somewhat leisurely day. I still have to study the maps to figure out what route I will take. Who knows where I'll be staying tomorrow night?!? I also have to figure out what route I will then take to Wichita, but I do know I want to stop in Oklahoma City for a visit to the zoo there.

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