'til the End of Time...

’til the End of Time…

As an intern, we are constantly reminded to be creative with enrichment preparation and to invent beyond the chimp’s usual activity. Shayla, a caregiver, has even had me stand in a cleaned enclosure and asked me to look at it as a chimpanzee. I ask myself, “Am I enriched in this space?” and if I’m not, I work harder to enhance their environment. An opportunity arose this morning to engage with an alpha female, Patti. I had previously heard of interns playing music for the chimps and today I found some downtime in the morning to try it out for myself. Patti was at the edge of the front enclosure, grasping the mesh, eyes searching, anticipating the arrival of someone to new to interact with. I sat down on the brick ledge and, at first, she seemed indifferent to my presence. I sang a few bars and she didn’t react, but she didn’t move either. I started on “Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley and after a bit Patti exhaled and pressed her face against the mesh, resting her chin there. I kept singing, repeating the song again and again, all the while she remained there at the mesh, her eyes locked with mine. I eventually got up to tend to more cleaning and Patti ambled off to her condo for a nap. The lyrics of the song hold true, I will be theirs “ ‘til the end of time”, actively supporting the species and their fight for recognition and conservation throughout the world. Today, it was by way of a small encounter that, I hope made a meaningful difference for one moment in the life of a very special chimpanzee.

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Chloe C., Intern