If you have attended a Chimposium as a guest of CHCI then you would certainly have heard us describe chimpanzee enrichment. If you follow our blog you may have seen plenty of descriptions of this without realizing that it was what we call “enrichment.” Look up the word enrich in the dictionary and you will find a variety of definitions. My favorite, the one that I feel best captures what we’re talking about here, is as follows: “to make better or improve in quality.”
Quite simply enrichment is anything that we, as caregivers, can provide to the chimpanzees to alleviate the boredom of captivity and engage their minds. This can include social interaction, food puzzles or forages, art projects, or interesting objects such as magazines, toys and clothes. One of the reasons we are always posting new items onto the Amazon wishlist and asking for help with things like magazines through Facebook is that we are constantly attempting to create new and different activities for the chimpanzees to enjoy. These are ways that you, too, can help to enrich the lives of the chimpanzees!
Below is a picture of Tatu participating in a challenging food puzzle. It might not look that difficult but putting the peanuts out of reach ensures that the chimpanzees are challenged to come up with some creative problem solving and tool use.