The Sounds of Grooming

The Sounds of Grooming

It was a beautiful day today at Chimps Inc. Many of the chimps were lounging around in the sun and grooming each other. While grooming, chimps often vocalize by making lip-smacking noises. Jackson can sometimes be heard making a form of lip-smacking noise while grooming. And CJ often lip-smacks while she eats. However, many chimpanzees make other vocalizations such as raspberry noises while grooming. A raspberry noise is where lips are pressed together while blowing out.

Researchers have been observing what seems to be cultural differences between groups of chimpanzees, both in the wild and in captivity. One cultural difference that have been observed in the wild is tool use preferences for cracking open nuts of extracting insects. Other differences are these grooming vocalizations. In my previous work with chimpanzees, I was able to observe this myself with a group of chimpanzees at a zoo who only made raspberry noises while grooming. I had never heard lip-smacking until I worked at another sanctuary where all the chimps made lip-smacking noises while they groomed.

Today Topo was busy grooming CJ while making the raspberry noise. CJ was enjoying all the attention, laying back while Topo groomed her. They have already had multiple grooming sessions this morning. In this picture, you will see Emma grooming Thiele, working hard to check her all over. ~Rebecca Smudzinksi, ChimpsĀ Inc. Volunteer