(Written by Debbie M. on November 15)
Lately the caregivers at CHCI have been working hard to create enrichment puzzles that will engage the chimpanzees. The idea is to do something fun to mix up the day and at the same time challenging enough to stimulate their minds.
Today we made L-shaped tube puzzles with peanut butter and raisins in a hard-to-reach spot. The tubes were attached to the caging and, theoretically, they would have to use hoses or sticks to get the yummy treat out of the end of the tube. However, another perhaps faster and more direct method would be to rip the tube off the caging and pull it inward to have closer access to the treat. Because the tubes we created were L-shaped, the chimpanzees would still have to manipulate the puzzle to get the treat even if they chose the faster “tear apart” method.
During lunch, I went to secure the puzzles to the caging of each of the chimpanzees’ playrooms. When lunch was over and the chimpanzees were first given access to the West playroom all three made a bee-line for the area where the tube puzzles were placed. Dar investigated the situation and then sat by the hydraulic door between the two playrooms waiting to go into the East room. Once the door was opened he ran in and started collecting his goodies from the puzzles attached to the East playroom caging. Tatu and Loulis were still in the West playroom so Dar had all the East room puzzles to himself!
Loulis was a excited about the treat and chose the “tear apart” method… however he was a little bit too rushed so the sections with the treats in it just fell down and landed outside the caging where he couldn’t reach them. I kicked them over to an area that was still outside the caging but there was a little bit of a gap underneath where he could reach his fingers out to get the tubes. After a little maneuvering, he managed to get a couple tubes and seemed to enjoy them immensely.
Tatu decided to grab a hose and try to get the treats that way. She worked at that for a little bit with some success but seemed to get impatient and tore the tube just like Loulis had. She used her hose to obtain the fallen section of tube that had the treat in it and sat contently eating her peanut butter and raisin tube.
Dar meanwhile was enjoying several tubes to himself and he, perhaps, had the most interesting method of getting the treat. He chose the “tear apart” technique to obtain the tube but did so gently so that he didn’t drop the important part. Then he carefully pulled the treat part through the caging and grabbed a hose and used that to actually eat the treat. Tatu and Loulis both just ripped open the treat sections and licked them clean; I thought it was particularly interesting that Dar decided to take his time with his treat by using the hose as a utensil.
Eventually Loulis and Tatu caught on to Dar’s whereabouts and joined him in the East room to clean up any leftovers. It seems that the chimpanzees really enjoyed this puzzle and were engaged for quite some time with it, so I’d say it was a successful enrichment project!