Chimps After Sunset
by Selena Medina, Animal Caregiver
The sun is starting to set and the chimps are settling down after a long day of exploring the habitats and playing with their group mates. Jacob is collecting hay to make his nest for the night, while Donovan is making his way to his hammock. Bedtime is approaching.
These are just some a few of the evening chimp routines we see as a night-shift caregivers at Chimp Haven.
The chimpanzees receive round-the-clock care at Chimp Haven. As the morning crew is ending their workday, two caregivers are arriving at the sanctuary in to begin theirs.
One of our first duties on night shift is to prepare the chimps’ fresh diets for the following morning, which consists of: a banana, a second fruit (apples, oranges, limes), a starch (potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions), a non-leafy green (cucumbers, green peppers, broccoli, eggplant), and a leafy green (kale, cabbage, iceberg lettuce). We also cut up their afternoon vegetable, which is usually carrots or celery. For more than 330 chimpanzees and counting, we use up to 10 boxes of kale or four boxes of bananas EVERY day!
Now it’s time for first checks. During “checks,” we do a wellness check on each of our 333 chimps and give out medications to the chimps who have a medical condition or are healing from a wound. Our veterinary team prepares the med bottles and leaves the medication tray so we can dispense them at night. It’s important to have the right juice preference for each chimp when giving out meds. Kris loves pineapple juice (she’ll only approach when she sees that her med bottle has pineapple juice in it), while Bowen and Axel receive a banana with their meds. Anita will only take her medication out of a one liter bottle with a straw in it!
After their meds, the chimps go back to rest. It’s calm and quiet at the sanctuary. The chimps make new sleeping nests every night with the fresh hay they are provided daily. Some chimps like to gather as much hay as possible to make the biggest nest, while others take an easier route and prefer to sleep in a hammock, which is just as comfortable. Even on warmer nights, many chimps prefer to sleep out in their habitats.
We do a second round of wellness checks around midnight – quietly, to avoid interrupting their sleep. The chimps can be seen sleeping near their best friends and typically mom and children duos sleep together – Carlee cuddles with mom, Passion, and Flora can always be seen hugging her daughter, Valentina Rose. Best friends Dea and Mackensie are within arm’s reach of each other every single night. On colder nights, best friends Miff and Emma love sharing a hammock to keep each other warm.
Even though we see them every night, watching the chimps have the freedom to choose how to spend their nights is still so special and shows us how comfortable and at home they feel here at Chimp Haven.