Andrea’s First Impressions

My first days at Fauna were both challenging and exciting. A week before officially interning in person at Fauna, online meetings were held every day where the interns learnt behavioural taxonomy and discovered everything that is important to know in order to be safe and respectful in the chimphouse. So much material was given out in that first week. It got to be a little overwhelming, however, I learnt a lot of interesting information about chimps, watched many videos and I was even surprised to discover how similar humans and chimpanzees are in some of their behaviours.

An important part of working in the chimphouse is being able to identify all the chimps. I had seen pictures of all of them before I arrived at Fauna but seeing them in the flesh made recognizing them a lot easier. I was finally able to observe each of their unique body shapes and facial features from all angles. Working in their presence also greatly facilitated getting to know each resident’s distinctive personality.

During the first weeks, I was taught how to do all the tasks I would be carrying out during the internship by the wonderful and very patient caregivers at Fauna. I learnt how to clean front and back rooms, how to make supper and breakfast bags, how to work the industrial size washer and dryer and so much more. By the end of each day, I would be exhausted from reviewing how to complete tasks and from being on my feet all day. In the chimphouse everyone is seemingly always in action.

When I’m not in the chimphouse, I make my way to the monkeyhouse by passing through Fauna’s absolutely beautiful property to visit Newton and monitor his behaviour. I enjoy my time in the chimphouse because it is always stimulating but being in the monkeyhouse is very calming and allows me the time to get creative in preparing enrichment for the residents of the sanctuary.

Now, after my first two weeks at Fauna, I’ve become a lot more comfortable and confident in doing my daily tasks. I’m really enjoying working at a non-profit and being able to support maintaining a clean, peaceful and enriching environment for everyone living at the sanctuary.

As a student studying environmental science it is really fulfilling to work in a place that shares my beliefs concerning the rights of living beings and that is dedicated to protecting our local flora and fauna. As much as it has been exhausting these past few weeks, I’ve found it really refreshing to be able to learn outside a classroom and acquire the insights that emerge only when one takes the time to truly reflect about and consider our next of kin.


Rachel enjoys assisting the cleaning process as well! One of the interesting aspects of the Fauna internship is that interns work in areas adjacent to the chimpanzees and can observe interesting behaviors. One aspect of our enrichment program is providing interesting activities to the chimpanzees as well as objects, forages, diversity in diet and spaces.