(Written on 9/08/10)
At CHCI caregivers try to work in fun enriching activities to do with the chimpanzees throughout the day. Painting is one of the common activities that we use to interact with them. We always use non-toxic washable paint because on occasion the chimps like to taste the colors they work with. Today I decided to take some paint and white paper out into the human cage area to see if anyone would come over to paint with me little suspecting what a masterpiece would emerge!
Both Tatu and Loulis were in the West playroom and they came over to investigate what I was doing. I poured some yellow and blue paint onto a piece of paper and I slid it under the cage for Tatu (Loulis did not seem interested in participating but still seemed interested in watching). Tatu sampled the colors and then used her paintbrush to move the colors around on the paper. She then slid the sheet of paper back out for more paint. I poured a dollop of black paint onto the paper and gave it back to Tatu.
She signed BLACK repeatedly and then took her paper and moved away from the caging with Loulis following her. They both sat down on the floor in the West playroom as Tatu began to paint with a look of deep concentration on her face. First, she used a combination of finger painting and brush painting to work on her project. Then, as Loulis and I watched, she drew a line with the paintbrush off the paper and continued it on the cement floor. She finished her painting by placing several brush strokes on the wall of the enclosure.