Last Thursday, Christina and I finally had our enhanced enrichment day. After “Googling” party themes about a month ago, we decided on Fiesta Day. I’d been waiting to have my enrichment day for about 6 months, ever since I learned that I’d be coming for the summer as an apprentice. I wanted to work really hard and for the chimpanzees to really have something to do, so I had a goal of making papier-mâché cacti filled with many goodies. I thought that breaking open a papier-mâché anything filled with treats would be fun for anybody. Needless to say, making a papier-mâché cactus isn’t the easiest art project I’ve came across. Constructing my cactus took several days, a lot of small cardboard scraps, and even more masking tape. After realizing what slow progress I was making, I decided on only one cactus, and a bunch of papier-mâché balloons. Balloons were a much simpler solution. I painted the cactus lime green with pink tissue paper flowers, and we painted the balloons with all sorts of fiesta type designs. We painted a few different posters and bought one of almost everything from the party section of the dollar store.
Thursday morning arrived, and it was time to set up. Well, after a month of preparing, I realized that we had significantly more things than I thought we would have. The room looked good though, like a fiesta should. There were tissue paper flower chains hanging from the shaky tree to the walls. We had chains with plastic chili peppers all over. Fiesta banners and posters were hung in every color. Decorated balloons were hanging on the shaky tree, tied to the platform, on top of the platform, and hanging on the fire hoses. We had a large cardboard Mexican-style pueblo with windows that opened up with treats hidden inside. There were small cardboard boxes that I’d wrapped completely in bright yellow duck tape with treats hidden inside. I’d try to make all the treats double or triple secured to make it a little more time consuming to get to the reward.
When the chimpanzees were let in to the play rooms for the day, they instantly went for the cardboard margarita glasses that Christina had filled with frozen fruit and ice. Loulis went first for the pueblo and ripped part of it off, but didn’t find all the treats. They all got to have some balloons. I saw Loulis rip one of them in half. Tatu ripped one of the completely duct-taped boxes open with her teeth and easily got her treat out. Dar took his time unwrapping the single very long piece of duck tape that covered the entire box. It was funny to see Tatu just rip it open and Dar take his time.
No one was getting my cactus, which was the part that I really was
looking forward to watching them interact with. So Kelly told Dar to
look at the green plant in the shaky tree. It didn’t seem to matter
much to him, he looked pretty content sitting up on the shaky tree with
some treats that he’d found previously. Finally, Tatu went up and
ripped the top off the cactus, leaving more treats for later.
Overall, I was very happy with how our enhanced enrichment day went. It looked really good, and I think that the chimpanzees had a good time breaking into everything. They are a lot stronger than we are, and I don’t think even layers of duck tape posed too much of a hassle, but they were entertained for part of the morning.