A New Toy For the Chimps

Everyone Loves Karen's Day

Every Tuesday, the enrichment calendar reads “Karen’s Day”. What does this mean? Long term volunteer Karen does an amazing job searching for new and exciting enrichment for the chimps and brings in a variety of toys, clothes, books, and more. The chimps always love the new things she brings for them, but you never know what objects will really excite them.

Last week, Karen brought a special toy, a plush lion, for Jackson, who is known for his love of stuffed animals. Sure, there were several other new toys spread around the enclosure that day, but it was clear that Jackson was excited to personally receive this gift from Karen. Jackson immediately began running around the enclosure, dragging the lion behind him. He shook the lion and laughed at it, he set it jackson_liondown on a platform and lied on it on his back, he used it as a cushion to sit on, and he swung on the trapeze, swinging the lion along with him. While swinging on the trapeze, Jackson was suddenly interrupted by Patti, who had decided that she wanted the lion for herself. She grabbed the plush lions leg, tore it from Jackson’s hands, and kept running straight through the tunnel into the indoor enclosure. Jackson looked just as shocked as we were. Patti is not known to get excited about stuffed animals (or much more than food or drinks for that matter) but she wanted to keep this toy for herself and held it close.

Jackson ran inside and began to taunt Patti until she ran back outside and Jackson was able to snag it back from her. Patti chased Jackson around the outdoor enclosure until she stole it from him again. This back and forth snatching went on for nearly twenty minutes and Jackson seemed thrilled to have Patti so engaged. Each time the toy lion was in his possession, Jackson would wave the toy in Patti’s face, then take off running when she began chasing him.

Eventually, Topo got involved and joined in on the chase too! I had never seen Topo run so fast but he was in pursuit right behind Jackson as they both chased Patti for the toy. This play went on for over an hour, with breaks in between when Patti gained possession and relaxed, cuddling with the toy.

Was there something special about this toy? Was it in high demand because it was a gift from a beloved long term volunteer? We can’t know exactly what was going on in the chimps’ minds but we do know that Karen managed to find a real treasure with this toy. It was so beautiful to witness this rare moment watching Patti and Topo excited about a toy and playing with Jackson as if they were kids themselves!


Kaleigh R., Social Media Editor