Greetings From the Primates
Wednesday 31st March 2010

One of the very best things about returning to work after a break on the Primate Department is the greeting you get from the Primates, especially the Chimps. While we do not impose ourselves on their world we, as Primate Keepers, are definitely part of their world and that recognition and subsequent greeting is by far the greatest privilege that we get.

I got a lovely greeting from the grand old Dame Lulu. Shikamoo, our youngest juvenile seemed very happy to have such a sucker for a playmate again, and our two infants, I think, were delighted to have somebody to poke, prod and stomp at throughout the day. A happy day indeed!

So what has been happening whilst I was away? The jockeying amongst the boys seems to be happening as normal. Both Shabani and Lubutu are showing wounds on their hands and wrists. It was good to see that all the deep wounds on Shabani and Chimbuka have all but healed, no long-term harm done and as we all know: chicks dig scars. An interesting set piece has been, the, until now unseen, committed support for Lubutu by Samaki, Shabani’s younger brother. As mentioned in previous blogs Samaki has been spending a lot of time hanging out with Lubutu. Why is this? We would fully expect him to support his brother when the time comes. Well, I guess you could say the time hasn’t come yet and Samaki wants to stay on Lubutu’s good side. There are of course good reasons for this, one, it is always good to hedge your bets, and two, by sucking up to Lubutu Samaki hopes not to be seen as a significant upcoming threat that can be dealt with now. As far as Samaki is concerned the stakes are very high indeed. This would go a long way to explain his behaviour this week, when as an 8-year old he got stuck into a confrontation between Lubutu and Chimbuka, slapping Chimbuka on the back with force. Will he pay for this down the line, undoubtedly, but for now it was very much what he needed to do.

On a lighter note, juvenile Furahi was seen this week holding infant Sule up above his head, so Sule was pressed flat against the outside exhibit window. As if that little fame monster needs any help in gathering more fans.

Work continues inside the house to test the mesh that will be used in the redevelopment. A pulley was installed and a treat was placed on the hook in an attempt to see if the Chimps could negotiate the mesh. Well, as usual, when needs must, our youngest juvenile Shikamoo retrieved the treat in under a minute without touching the mesh at all. So on to Plan C or D (not really sure), the pulley position was moved and the next day the Chimps were given access again. This time it only took Shikamoo 20 seconds to grab the treat by swinging out on one of the ropes. On to Plan D or something! The process is becoming frustrating for our maintenance guys, but this constant tweaking is a fact of life when you are dealing with one of the most adaptable intelligent species around.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

- Allan

Senior Primate Keeper

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