The Chimps Watch Us Cook

The Chimps Watch Us Cook

The prep kitchen at Chimps Inc is set up with a huge window, so that the chimps can see into the kitchen and watch what volunteers, caregivers, and interns are preparing for them. Usually, one or two chimps takes a moment to peek in, standing up or stretching their necks to see more. If we are preparing something really good, the chimpanzee onlookers become more enthusiastic. Emma once became very intrigued and excited when she saw us making a very rare treat for an enrichment device: noodles. This week, while cutting up some produce to put in the dehydrator, I heard a banging on the window and looked up to see Herbie trying to get my attention. When I acknowledged him, Herbie pointed with great intention at the banana that I was in the process of slicing. He then pointed straight into his open mouth, asking for some of this banana. “You want something to eat? You just got breakfast.” I said to him. Herbie then tapped his fists together, making the ASL sign for “more”. It’s hard to know whether Herbie understood exactly what he was saying, or if he just knew that he typically gets food when he makes that gesture, but either way I was still very impressed with his ability to communicate without words. Though I denied his first request, Herbie continued getting my attention by tapping the window. Each time I looked up, there he was, pointing to the banana, then his own mouth. Eventually we gave in and Herbie received half a banana. The chimps truly amaze me each day with how much they understand and how they learn to communicate their desires with us.

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Kaleigh, Social Media Editor