Watching Jackson Learn

Watching Jackson Learn

Herbie is renowned here at the sanctuary for finding hard plastic objects such as water bottles and raking them along the floor of the indoor Playhouse, making a horribly loud noise. This noise drives everyone crazy, including the other chimps so when he starts raking, we ask him to give us the object through a feed door. This request has evolved into a game where Herbie searches for all plastic items he can find and calls us over to take them in exchange for a small treat. After several months of playing this “game” with Herbie, it seems that Jackson has caught on to the rules. Last week, Herbie was using a plastic water bottle to rake along the floor. When he had finished, he left the water bottle and walked away. As I entered the room Jackson looked at me, looked at Herbie sitting across the room, then looked at the water bottle in the middle of the floor. When he knew he had my attention, Jackson raced to grab the water bottle and put it in the feed for me to take. I had never asked Jackson to bring me these objects but he learned that there’s a reward involved for doing so purely by observing Herbie. It was amazing to see him learn something in this way and of course he was rewarded with a tasty treat. It is such a privilege to have the opportunity to watch this young chimp learn and grow.

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Kaleigh R., Caregiver