A Day in The Life of a Chimpcare Trainee

8:00 am Breakfast
Assisted with breakfast today, what fun! I got to serve all of the vitamins (very important!). Tatu wanted hers first, and then Dar, and then Loulis. Everyone had all they were supposed to. Next comes crackers, but since no one wanted any, we brought out the fruit bowls. Apples, cranberries, grapefruit (really good, this year!), and nectarines. Serving the bowls takes a lot of practice! You have to slide them just so, so that no food spills out. Everyone was excited for the bowls, but overall it was a quiet meal, and over rather quickly. While the chimpanzees ate, my trainer talked to me about some safety rules in the kitchen. When they were finished, it was time to ask for the bowls back. Loulis was particularly helpful, and he got all of the bowls for us.

12:00 pm Lunch
Assisted with lunch today, and everyone was pretty mellow. First came crackers. Dar took eight of the large crackers and put all of them in his mouth at once! Mary Lee was teasing him, saying SWALLOW! SWALLOW! He got some water from the spigot, and sat in the tunnel. Next came soup. There were two types of soup, one was the normal bean soup that we had prepared that morning, and the other was turkey soup that Mary Lee had brought in. The boys decided they wanted bean soup, but Tatu was really enjoying the turkey soup! Unfortunately, there was only enough for one bowl. When Tatu asked for another bowl of soup, and she got bean soup instead, she sent it right back! After lunch the chimpanzees get fresh veggies. Today we had lots of tiny onions, red and white! How fun! Mary Lee showed me how to roll the onions just right so that the chimpanzees can reach them, but also so that they don’t fall into the drain. The chimpanzees seemed to like the white onions better than the red onions, because when they were finished, there were no white onions left!

2:00 pm Interaction
Went to see how the chimpanzees were doing. Loulis was eager to play. First we played hand tickle, and then foot tickle. My trainer showed me how to tuck my shoelaces into my shoes, and chimp-laugh. Chimpanzee laughs are an extension of a chimpanzee play-face, with the mouth open and the upper lip covering the upper teeth. To make this into a laugh, nod and breathe audibly through the mouth. Whew! It’s a lot to think about. Next up was a game of chase. Loulis signed CHASE at us, and took off towards the East playroom. So, off we ran to the East playroom, but he wasn’t there! We were tricked! Back to the West playroom we ran, and there was Loulis, waiting for us. After another game of foot tickle came another game of chase. Loulis ran towards the East playroom, so we ran to the East playroom as well, and there he was, sitting by the door, waiting for us. Then it was time to leave, so we said good-bye and waved.

3:30 pm Dinner
Dinner was pasta with sauce and carrots! After serving all of the chimpanzees their bowls, my trainer and I hung out in the Night Enclosure Area, in case they needed anything. Dar was the first done; he had eaten all of his pasta, and none of his carrots! Next was Tatu, and she had eaten all of her carrots, but none of her pasta. So for seconds we served what each chimp wanted from dinner. Dar got a bowl with only a few carrots, and lots of pasta. Tatu got a bowl with lots of carrots, and a little bit of pasta. When they were done with their bowls, the bowls were clean, and they both wanted thirds! Loulis was definitely keeping up with the other two. What a popular dinner! Next we needed to get the bowls back so that we could put out the nighttime enrichment. My trainer showed me how to use play to keep the chimpanzees interested in helping out with the routine. She played a short, slow game of chase with Dar as he went in search of bowls. After the bowls were back we put out the enrichment: lots of big blankets, magazines, toys, and hoses. Before putting the magazines in, my trainer showed me how to read a magazine with Tatu, and they had a short conversation about some flowers in a gardening magazine. After all the enrichment is out, it’s time for sleeping! Goodnight!

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