CJ's Winter Apparel

CJ’s Winter Apparel

It’s common sense that you shouldn’t give something to a chimpanzee if you really want it back, but occasionally staff members will give the chimps a personal item. CJ has a particular affinity for hats and headbands and this week she had her eye on my crocheted black beanie. CJ is usually pretty good about giving items back and though I wear this beanie often, it was getting old and I decided to let CJ try it on. She was excited to receive it and immediately smelled it. Once she was done sniffing, she put the beanie over her whole face. We could still make out the outline of her face as she made faces, opening her mouth wide and pushing it up against the mesh. With her face hidden, she reached out to grab Thiele’s feet and lure her into a goofy play session. “Oh CJ! It looks great on you!” I told her, trying hard not to laugh in front of her. After a few minutes, CJ began to pass the hat back through through the wire mesh but as I reached out to take it, she changed her mind and decided to keep it. Smelling it and holding it close, CJ disappeared with my hat. I figured that I could keep an eye out for it when we cleaned the enclosure later, assuming she’d get bored with it shortly. I did hope to get my beanie back, but I wasn’t too concerned. Several hours later, I returned to the kitchen and saw CJ in the window, begging for some bananas that had just been donated. “You want a banana? Well where is my hat CJ?” I asked her. Without getting up, CJ reached just over to her side and held up my hat as if responding, “What do you mean? It’s right here.” Thoroughly impressed, I nodded and traded a banana for the return of my hat. The level of care and understanding that these animals have never ceases to amaze me.

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Kaleigh R., Caregiver