Birthdays are always celebrated at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, and although Lani Gusman graduated this past spring, her birthday was celebrated in proper chimpanzee style!
Lani was an extremely dedicated member of the volunteer team at CHCI and was a good friend to both human and nonhuman primates alike. For her birthday this year, I sponsored a party for the chimpanzees in her honor – complete with special treats! Lani is an excellent chef and the chimpanzees of CHCI have enjoyed many a meal prepared by her. For her birthday celebration the chimpanzees food-grunted loudly over fresh raspberries, organic bananas (served with the peels intact, perfect for wadging!), blueberries, and peanut butter trail mix. Two kinds of juice boxes were also placed in the East room for the celebration. Lisa Lyons, one of CHCI’s technicians, did some excellent climbing to hide the treats all over the East playroom.
Food puzzles are a great way for the chimpanzees to spend their time during the day. For Lani’s birthday, volunteers placed juice boxes and other treats into containers and sealed them with tape to create a challenging puzzle. Furthermore, some juice boxes were placed into water bottles and the bottles were sealed shut. Tatu gathered several of these bottles and spent a good deal of time extracting the boxes and enjoying the juice inside.