Patti's Vitamins

Patti’s Vitamins

Each day, the chimps take vitamins before breakfast. Everyone loves them…except for Patti. Don’t get me wrong, she gets super excited for the orange flavored vitamin-c and the gummy bear multivitamin, but when it comes time for the fish oil and flaxseed oil, her stubborn side comes out full force. Every morning, Patti reliably eats her vitamin-c and multivitamin, but only pretends to eat the flaxseed oil and fish oil capsules by holding them in her mouth and then gesturing expectantly towards her breakfast. She does this so often that we had to make a rule that she open her mouth and stick out her tongue at us to prove she’s swallowed them. Patti is by far the smartest chimp at Chimps Inc. though and it took her no time at all to come up with a solution to this problem.

Chimps have big pouch-like areas inside their bottom lip (just like hamsters do in their cheeks) which let them pack more food into their mouths than we can. It also provides an excellent hiding place for yucky vitamins one would rather not eat. The pouch is so deep that all Patti has to do is tuck the capsules into her lip and then innocently stick her tongue out of a seemingly empty mouth. “See? All gone.” Or so she’d like us to think! We figured this trick out pretty quickly though, because as soon as we handed over her breakfast, she spit the vitamins out onto the floor. After that, we made a new rule: she has to pop the capsules in her mouth before she gets her breakfast; that way we know she’s ingested the oil. This has worked for quite a while, although it’s still a daily struggle.

This morning was the same as any other. Patti gobbled down the good vitamins and then took her time with the oil capsules, pushing them around in her mouth and holding them out to me on her tongue. “Come on, Patti, eat your vitamins,” I told her. She responded by spitting them out into her hand and trying to give them back to me. “No, Patti, you have to eat them.” She reluctantly put them back in her mouth and then stuck her empty tongue out at me. I rolled my eyes. “I know they’re in there, Patti. You can’t fool me.” She popped them back out of her lip and pushed them around her mouth, every so often poking them out through her lips and then sucking them back in. “Let me see you pop them and then you get your breakfast,” I told her. She bit the flaxseed oil with her teeth and then opened her mouth to show me. “Good job,” I said, nodding. “Now the other one.” She poked the fish oil capsule out between her lips and then gently punctured it with her teeth. She looked me straight in the eye, bit down on the capsule and squirted the entire contents out onto the floor. Then she spit the empty capsule out into her hand and handed it to me. I looked from the capsule to Patti (and I swear there was a self-satisfied smirk on her face) and then sighed and handed over her breakfast. I remember making the same fuss as a kid when my parents made me drink my daily glass of milk so I guess I really can’t blame her.

Rachel, Caregiver