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As we’re coming to the end of the year and decade one last Chimpanzee update seems appropriate.
Overall they’re enjoying their new surrounds, in particular, the cool of the den areas.

Lubutu appears to be re-establishing his authority over the females and the other two adult males.
The other day upon his approach, Shabani was seen to fully adopt a submissive posture with a serious fear grin on his face as well.

Interestingly enough Shabani’s own younger brother Samaki is putting a lot of effort into spending time with Lubutu. Most days by mid-morning the two of them will be seen enjoying a snooze in one of the dens. This is a fairly good indicator that Lubutu’s status is still high. No doubt in the future the two brothers will make a formidable team, but for now as far as Samaki’s concerned it certainly can’t hurt to keep in good with Lubutu. In other male news, Chimbuka’s toe continues to heal nicely.

Last week I saw the fame monster, Sule, striking a significant blow for his sex. In the wild that it takes the average female Chimp only three years to fully master the art of termite fishing while the average young male Chimp languishes behind at five years. However last week I saw Sule competently use a stick to retrieve fruit puree from one of the two artificial termite mounds on exhibit while Sembe only got as far as poking her little finger into the hole.

So why have our infants progressed so far so fast? I believe you can put it down to a few things. Chimps in the wild might come across a suitable termite mound once or twice a month, so the learning opportunities are far more spread out. Here at Taronga, both infants see termite dipping every day. Successfully navigating actual insect mounds requires a great deal more thought and skill than the purpose-built, precision-engineered jobbies that we provide. Lastly, as far as Sule’s concerned, due to Sacha’s unique parenting style he has the independence and time on his hands to undertake the crash course in termite dipping 101.

Being as it is New Year's Eve, I guess a mention of our grand old dame, Lulu, is necessary. Lulu has long been the subject of an urban myth that she always stays out on New Year’s Eve night to watch the fireworks. This, of course, is not true at all. Lulu, like all our Chimps, doesn’t like fireworks. So why not go in? The old Chimp exhibit has some of the best views of the harbour and it appears that the gradual but considerable build-up of boats on the harbour is what interests her. She might not know what it all means but she’d realise something special is afoot.

As Lulu doesn’t have her view of the harbour this year, the keepers are worried that she won’t know that it is the end 2009. So we’re organising to take some footage of the boats today so she will know. Otherwise she will think the year will just go on and on.

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