Hello everybody! My name is Mark Darrah and I’m one of the 10 apprentices this summer selected to help out at CHCI. Each apprentice was given a day for which it was their job to come up with an enrichment theme. I grew up in Fountain Valley, a city in OrangeCounty that is anywhere from a 45 minute to an all-day drive Los Angeles, depending on traffic, of course. As I grew up so close to Hollywood, I decided to create a Hollywood themed day for the chimpanzees.
Most importantly, of course, was starting out with a Hollywood sign. I made my version of the Hollywood sign out of butcher paper and black markers. I thought it would only be right if I drew stars all over the paper, so I brought out the yellow markers, too. I asked one of the techs what room the chimpanzees usually stay in the most and I was told the East room. About a week before my enrichment day I was signed up to help clean in the East room, and while I was washing everything down I was able to look around the room and see what I wanted to do with it. I noticed that on one of the walls there is a painting of a farm with some rolling hills and I thought to myself, “What better place to put my Hollywood sign than on these painted hills?”
The ideas started to flow now and I thought that it would be best to give my theme day a sub-theme, and I came up with a movie premiere. I went home and drew two movie posters on poster board, for a movie titled “Look Who’s Signing,” starring Washoe, Tatu, Loulis, and Dar. I also took another piece of poster board and drew a scene from the movie; keeping in the Hollywood theme I drew the 4 chimps having fun at the beach. Washoe and Tatu were playing volleyball, Loulis was surfing, and Dar was relaxing on the sand soaking up some rays.
Since they were now big movie stars they have to have their own stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I made each chimp their very own star with their name and picture on it.
I also thought “What movie premier would be complete without exiting a limo onto a red carpet?” I couldn’t get a real limo into their play room, so I designed my own. I got three pieces of butcher paper and one I drew the back of the limo, on another I drew the top of the limo, and on the third I drew the front of the limo. I put these pieces of paper around the door they enter to get into the East room from the West room, so the door became the door of the limo. I put red colored poster board on the ground so that when they walked into the East room it would look like they were walking out of a limo onto a red carpet. I added nice shoes, dresses, coats, and purses to make the event a little more formal. I even threw some Hollywood tabloid magazines in the room for them to look at.
It was also a food enrichment day so I put out popcorn and dried fruit inside blank CD cases so that the chimpanzees would have to figure out how to open them up if they wanted the treats inside. I made covers for the cd cases that all had a California theme to them: Hollywood Nights, Hotel California, California Love, California Girls, and I Love L.A.
I felt that my enrichment day was a success and I hope that the chimpanzees had as much fun looking at and interacting with their new enrichment as I had in coming up with it and making it.