SMELL Stories

Written by: Rozsika Steele:

When I arrived this morning I went into the night enclosure area to greet the chimpanzees. I signed GOOD MORNING TATU. She answered me by signing SMELL. I gently blew toward her face so she could smell my breath. Tatu signed TOOTHBRUSH. I had just brushed my teeth but I jokingly asked I NEED TOOTHBRUSH?! Tatu replied BLACK. I’ll take toothbrush, as it is a definite improvement over her usual response, onion.

Written by: Amanda Davis:

As someone that has been invited to Chimp Care training, it is always exciting to come in and see my name on the schedule for a task that involves interaction with the chimps. Towards the end of October, I was up for such an interaction with Lindsay as my trainer. It was in the middle of one of my weekday morning shifts and I grabbed a quick snack (as I often do) before heading into the nighttime enclosure area with Lindsay to see what the chimps were up to. We walked in to see Dar laying down on the platform in the East playroom and, since he was more interested in taking a nap, we headed over to West to see what Tatu and Loulis were doing.

Tatu was sitting by the West playroom door and immediately began to sign SMELL. As those who work at CHCI and most blog followers know, Tatu enjoys smelling the breath of her caretakers. First, Lindsay knelt down and blew in Tatu’s direction. After a pause, Tatu  pointed towards me and signed SMELL again. I was happy to oblige as I sat on the ground by the cage and cupped my hands under my chin to blow towards Tatu. Again she sat for a moment, then signed NUT. I looked up towards Lindsay with a look of surprise before agreeing. The snack I had eaten before going in for the interaction was indeed a a handful of almonds. I was incredibly impressed that she was able to identify what I had eaten by smell alone, and I know that wherever my training takes me, this unique family will never cease to amaze me!

Written by: Lisa Lyons

I was in the kitchen this morning rinsing out my breakfast bowl and, as the people taking enrichment into the East playroom went through the door, I looked up to see Tatu sitting on the floor in one of the rooms of the night enclosures. She made eye contact with me and quickly signed HURRY SMELL YOU. I approached her and crouched down on the floor in front of the room to oblige. I blew my breath across my palms for her to smell. After a moment she looked at me and signed SWEET. I replied SORRY NO, I NOT EAT SWEET. Tatu then asked to SMELL my breath again. I blew my breath for her to smell a second time and, again, she signed SWEET afterward. I asked YOU THINK I SMELL SWEET? Tatu sat a moment in silence then asked to SMELL my breath. I blew my breath for her to smell again and this time she immediately replied MILK. I laughed and nodded agreeing YOU RIGHT I DRINK MILK!

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