At CHCI we used theme enrichment to break up the day to day routine of the chimpanzees. The celebration of holidays, birthdays and weekly theme days, with the non-permanent forms of enrichment, helped us make the chimpanzees days more interesting. The windows were decorated for the holidays, crepe paper and balloons were hung up, and the chimpanzees received wrapped presents and special food treats (examples include red day, musical toys day, beach day, etc.).
Some of the ways we made the days special at CHCI:
We provided plastic brushes, buckets of soapy water, rubber boots, and sponges. The human caregivers smeared mustard or ketchup on the walls or windows of the chimpanzees' enclosure and placed the brushes, buckets of soapy water, rubber boots and sponges in the chimpanzee enclosure. The chimpanzees used the items to clean their enclosures as they had seen their human caregivers do every day.
Human caregivers provided various types of paper (colored, white, paper towels, toilet paper, shredded paper etc.) inside of the chimpanzees' enclosures. We spread the paper throughout the chimpanzees' enclosure. The chimpanzees colored on the paper, used it for wadges, and nested with it.
The human caregivers stacked cardboard boxes in the chimpanzees' enclosure to make forts, cities, trains, etc. Other enrichment items could be placed in or on the boxes.
Human enrichers hung the sheets throughout the enclosure. This provided the chimpanzees with areas in which they hide.
Hide Objects in Bags
Enrichers placed the enrichment items - for example toys, magazines, clothing, shoes) inside bags. They often placed bags within other bags and then placed the bags in the enclosures.
Covering Enclosures with Sheets
Human caretakers cut holes in the sheets and cover the enclosures with sheets and secure the edges. Enrichment objects could be placed on top of the sheets near the holes so that the chimpanzees could pull the items through the holes in the sheets.
Human caretakers placed a large selection of clothing inside of the chimpanzees' enclosure. The chimpanzees at CHCI sometimes wore the clothing, nested with it and/or used it in play interactions such as tug-of-war and peek-a-boo.
On color days all the enrichment provided to the chimpanzees was only one color .
Slumber Party Day
Caregivers provided the chimpanzees with soft things to rest with including pillows, sleeping bags, fluffy clothing, big stuffed animals, and shredded paper.
Birthday and Holiday Celebrations
CHCI celebrated holidays and each chimpanzee's birthday. The windows were decorated for the holidays, crepe paper and balloons are hung up, and the chimpanzees received wrapped presents and special food treats.