Brushing teeth

The other day a bunch of caregivers came in to interact with the chimps. Kaeley and I were going to give the chimpanzees some toothbrushes and thought it would be fun to brush our teeth with them, so we opened up some new toothbrushes and got them ready. Julie and Alex came a few minutes later to say “hi” so we told them to grab toothbrushes, too. Loulis and Tatu seemed to think it was a lot of fun to play with four different caregivers! Loulis signed CHASE CHASE and had a huge playface as we all stomped and slapped our knees. Tatu wanted to play a more quiet game and went through each one of us asking for SMELL. Kaeley started grooming Tatu while Alex continued to play chase with Loulis. Throughout the whole interaction, we all kept brushing our teeth.

Here’s a series of photos with some of the fun. Look for Alex’s goofy expressions—definitely one of my favorite parts of the interaction!

Tatu & I brushing our teeth:

Kaeley, myself, & Alex with Tatu:

Kaeley & Alex with Tatu:

Julie doing SMELL with Tatu: (Note I’m tickling Loulis in the background!)



Me (Debbie):

Alex & Loulis play:

Kaeley grooming Tatu, and Julie still brushing her teeth:


About Debbie Metzler

Debbie began working with chimpanzees in 2005 while she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Central Washington University. She continued on to earn a master's degree in primate behavior, and after graduation joined the adjunct faculty in the primate behavior department. Debbie is an experienced coordinator for education, outreach, and advocacy programs. Currently she is working toward putting an end to the exploitation of non-human apes everywhere.
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