Getting to Know Jackson

Getting to Know Jackson

I’m gradually getting to know each of the chimps, and having a great time doing it. Jackson is one of those I initially thought I probably wouldn’t get to know well, but it turns out he is very interesting. A while ago we got a donation of silicone cell phone cases, and I wasn’t sure how the chimps would react. I was told they like to pull and gnaw on silicone objects, which makes sense, but Jackson fascinated me with what he did. I was preparing food in the chimp kitchen when I saw him sitting on a platform along the mesh side. He had a silicone case that he pushed through the mesh a few times, but didn’t let go. He then pushed it all the way through, but kept it trapped with his index finger. He kept manipulating it up and down and around the mesh, pinning it with his finger, not letting go. He kept it up for a couple minutes, and it finally fell to the floor outside the enclosure. I don’t know if he was done with it or it was a mistake, but I was amazed that he was able to be in control of it through the mesh for so long.
Yesterday, after I was finished for the day, I stayed in the chimp kitchen to watch Herbie’s group for a while. At one point, Jackson came over and sat in front of me. He obviously knew I was there, but tried to act cool and kept his gaze anywhere but on me. He then looked at me and nonchalantly whapped the glass with the back of his hand. At last, he’s accepting me as someone to play with! I recoiled, acting like I’d been hit. I thumped the glass in return, and he continued the volley. We kept going off and on for maybe five minutes total, after which he’d had enough of playing with me and went off somewhere else. It felt great to have a connection with one of the chimps I had thought would keep their distance from me. Maybe next time, he’ll invite me to play chase.

____________________
Wyatt H., Intern