Berm Duty

Today was a very nice day to be up on Berm (the area that overlooks the chimpanzees’ outdoor enclosure and provides a garden for them).

dscf4230.jpgThe weather has finally cooled down a bit, apparently because of the forest fire smog shifted by the winds to Ellensburg. Even though its cause is rather grim, I cannot say we are not enjoying a break from the sweltering heat!

When I got up to the berm Tatu was lying down on the spool near the observation window and nobody else could be seen.

dscf4239.jpgBut sure enough, pretty soon, I heard the flap of door A (the chimpanzees’ door between the indoor and outdoor enclosures) and Loulis made his way up to one of his favorite spots in the cargo net overlooking the campus surroundings. Disturbed by a particularly loud motorcycle Loulis, slightly pilot erect (hair standing on end), made his way down to communicate with Tatu near door A and then the two made a loop around the whole enclosure together. They climbed up the caging near the human cage, onto the cargo net behind the climbing structure, passing each other constantly as they headed west on the caging. Loulis eventually left Tatu behind and returned to sitting in the cargo net.

dscf4268.jpgI can never tell whether having me there, sitting, watching him, and taking notes, makes him feel awkward. I know that I would certainly feel uncomfortable if our roles were reversed so I just doodled while he looked out over the intersection and we sat in a comfortable silence.
This specific experience is typical of a daily berm shift. Berm is probably one of my favorite parts of interning at CHCI. After the strenuous mental task of coding live chimpanzee play gesture sequences, running around doing laundry, entering meal data, or making meals, I really enjoy the moments when I have the opportunity to just sit near these intelligent and sensitive chimpanzees and remember why I am readily dedicating eight weeks of my summer to CHCI and how truly worthwhile my experience has been.
Written on Thursday, August 5, 2010.


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