Tube Time WIth Thiele

Tube Time With Thiele

Ever since I met these chimps two years ago, I have been bonding with each chimp in different ways. Some have taken longer than others to warm up to me, and for some chimps, our friendship for the day depends very much on what kind of mood they are in. Thiele has definitely been the most aloof and difficult to bond with, though recently I’ve discovered that when she is in a playful mood, there is one way I can engage with her. Since I have no physical contact with the chimps, Thiele will settle for playing with a two foot long, cardboard tube with me. One day I was walking out of the chimp house with four of these tubes, and Thiele gestured that she wanted to play. I put all but one of the tubes down and put the end of that tube on the mesh next to her. Thiele stuck her fingers through and started pushing the tube around, in whack-a-mole fashion. She would push the tube forcefully in one direction and I would let it swing with her push, and then put it back on the mesh in a different place, where she would push it again. After a few minutes of this, she turned around and presented her back to me, so I could scratch it with the tube. She enjoyed this treatment for a few minutes, occasionally adjusting to give me a new area to scratch. Then she turned back around ready to play some more. I held the tube up to the mesh and looked through one end, and Thiele immediately looked back at me through the tube. I talked to her through it, and she put her ear to the opening.  We alternated between all these activities for about fifteen minutes before she called it quits. I consider this interaction to be a big success, and great progress in bonding with this brilliant chimp.

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Makaela T., Cargiver