The Chimpanzee in the Mirror

The Chimpanzee in the Mirror

It’s no secret that chimpanzees can recognize themselves in mirrors and yet it is fascinating to watch every time we catch them inspecting themselves. This week, a compact mirror was placed in one of the outdoor enclosures as enrichment. While sometimes these small mirrors go ignored, this one was a hot commodity. Jackson and Topo spent the day taking turns with this mirror and each time I’d pass by the mirror would be in a different chimp’s hands. What seemed to be most interesting for the chimps, was to watch themselves eat. Jackson stared intensely into the small compact mirror as he chewed crab apples that had been scattered around the enclosure. He’d chew a few then open his mouth to inspect the fruity mush that he had just created. Topo managed to get possession of the mirror just in time for lunch and ate his entire lunch with the mirror in one hand, watching every bite closely. What could they have been thinking while doing this? There’s no way to know what was going on in their minds but one thing we can learn from this is that chimps and humans share a similar sense of curiosity.

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Kaleigh R., Social Media Editor