10 Surprising Enrichment Items the Chimps Love

Jordan Garbarino
Jordan Garbarino April 17, 2020
Jeff Chimp

The chimpanzees who call Chimp Haven home receive enrichment 365 days a year to help keep them healthy and thriving. Enrichment is something that helps the chimps practice behaviors they would do in the wild.

Behavior Technician Jordan Green

For example, we might scatter food in their rooms so they can spend time looking for it. Or we might give them a variety of soft items to build their nests each day (like making your bed!).

Below are 10 items you might be surprised to learn that the chimps enjoy as enrichment:

  1. Ketchup – Do you like ketchup? The chimps do too! We do not give them a side of fries, but instead I’ll squirt some ketchup in a small bucket and the chimps will use sticks scoop some up and lick it off – this is called fishing!
  2. Movies – Some chimps love movies! We have several small TVs and a collection of DVD’s that we can set up for the chimps to watch. Our DVD collection includes everything from cartoons, old movies, and even movies about other animals. Pierre is one chimp seems to really enjoy many of the movies we turn on.
  3. Pickles – The chimps recently got pickles as enrichment and they were a hit. Very few could resist a cold pickle slice. Barbet even followed me around for seconds!
  4. Flour – Sometimes, we will put a scoop of flour in a brown paper bag and pass them out to the chimpanzees. Some chimps will eat a bit of the flour but others dump it out on the ground and look through it. No matter how it is enjoyed, it is very cute seeing all the chimps covered in flour for the morning.
  5. Guacamole – Our chimpanzees receive tomatoes, onions, and avocados in their diet already, so it was a no-brainer to make guacamole! Because it was made of several of their favorite items, the chimps loved it.
  6. Brushes – Chimps may not brush their hair or their teeth, but toothbrushes and dish brushes are some of their favorite items to carry around. Believe it or not, they will sometimes make a nest with the brushes too!
Nicole “brushes her teeth” with her brush enrichment
  • Mashed potatoes – Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes?! We make them for the chimps too! The potatoes make our kitchens smell amazing and the chimps like trying one of their favorite foods in a different way.
  • Magazines – Our chimpanzees usually enjoy magazines in two ways: By shredding them to make a nest or inspecting the pages. One chimp, Emma, is known for saving magazine pages with food she would like and showing it to caregivers.
  • Popsicles – Nothing beats the summer heat like a cold popsicle! We give the chimps Flavor Ice popsicles or even make our own sometimes! We freeze juice in big tubs to make extra-large popsicles that are a favorite – especially when we freeze fruit into them too.
  • Mirrors – Some of the chimpanzees love to look at themselves – or spy on their neighbors – in mirrors. We have special mirrors meant for the chimps that we can hang on their spaces. Sassy is one chimp who will spend time admiring herself in the mirror whenever she can.
  • Jordan Garbarino
    Jordan Garbarino
    Positive Reinforcement Training Program Supervisor