The chimpanzees ask for toothbrushes frequently. I used to just pass out the toothbrushes and sit with them while they brushed their teeth but one day I thought I could use some fresher breath so I grabbed a toothbrush for myself. Now I always brush my teeth with the chimpanzees. Strangely, it’s become a social activity and can even lead to silly games.
Amanda and I were brushing our teeth with Loulis and Tatu while playing intermittent games of CHASE and TICKLE. Tatu stole Loulis’s toothbrush and when he tried to get it back she taunted him with it, tapping him on the lips with the brush end. When he gave up she play bit his shoulder and grabbed his foot until he started chasing her. The next thing I knew they were playing tug ‘o’ war with an old dress and chasing each other through the enclosures. Tatu dropped Loulis’s toothbrush somewhere along the way and he picked it up and continued to brush his teeth. This was too tempting for Tatu’s antics. She started chasing him around again trying to grab his toothbrush out of his mouth. Tatu had a huge playface and both were breathy panting through the entire incident.
I took these pictures a few months ago. Dar really liked brushing his teeth but instead of moving his arm, he would move his head back and forth like he was shaking his head NO causing his huge ears to flop around.