Thiele the Architect

Thiele the Architect

In the wild, chimps sleep in nests in the trees which they build by bending and lacing branches together. They construct them carefully and purposefully, first creating a strong foundation by choosing specific branches based on flexibility and durability, and then using leaves and twigs for cushioning and warmth.  The chimps at Chimps Inc. make nests as well, but because they were raised by humans, their nests look slightly different than those of their wild relatives.  Instead of branches and leaves, they opt for blankets, shredded paper and any other bedding materials they find in their enclosures.

Thiele is one chimp who puts great effort into building nests, taking great care to choose her materials and fit them together to form the perfect bed. Today I was lucky enough to observe her at work!  She picked out three or four blankets (first thoroughly sniffing them and running them between her fingers) and then laid them out around herself, weaving them together and tucking in the ends. Then she grabbed a large armful of shredded paper and, handful by handful, tucked the paper into the blankets.  She also incorporated an orange tube sock, a pair of exercise pants, and half the contents of an old feather pillow.  As I walked away, I saw her put the finishing touches to the nest and then throw a blanket over her head.  When I passed by 15 minutes later, all I could see of Thiele was the gentle rise and fall of her breathing beneath the blanket and a few stray feathers floating in the air around her. Clearly a master at work.
– Rachel Bronstein, Caregiver