Caregiver Chronicles: With You There To Help Me…Through the Stereotypies

Chimpanzees and Stereotypies

Chimpanzees in captivity often manifest stereotypies, which are repetitive behaviors that can be self-destructive. We see these in institutionalized humans as well. Some chimpanzees and humans are more resilient and we see less or none of these behaviors, while others manifest more. In Maya’s case, she picks the skin on her foot. It becomes very dry. To help her through the stereotypies, we have been doing hydrotherapy on her foot to keep it clean and help it heal. We rinse the wound with a hydrogen peroxide solution, then apply either Polysporin or a medical gel called Intrasite.

A Friend Indeed

The chimpanzees like to spend more time outside on the islands and in the skywalks as summer approaches. Sometimes we have to get creative when we want to serve them their meals or perform necessary medical care, such as hydrotherapy. Maya spends a lot of time out on the islands when she can. On beautiful days that is where she can be found.

I went outside one day to try to get her to come in for hydrotherapy and I was having some trouble convincing her. I brought out some fruit to boost my persuasive powers. Binky and Jethro were happy to comply, coming over and sitting by me at the edge of the island, but Maya was taking her time. I asked Jethro and Binky if they would help me, to go get Maya and bring her closer. No one was budging. Maya had settled in some 50 feet away. I decided to go back inside the chimphouse to get my hydrotherapy supplies, in case she changed her mind and decided to come over.

Fauna Caregiver Chronicles - Chimpanzee Jethro
Jethro is a friend indeed. Photo © NJ Wight

When I came back outside, I was delighted to see Jethro walking toward me from where Maya had been, herding her along ahead of him. He had gone to get her for me! I thanked Jethro and sat down with the both of them to treat Maya’s foot. I shared some of Maya’s fruit rewards with him throughout the process, and he even helped me rub in the Intrasite gel delicately on her foot. Jethro is a wonderful friend to Maya, and he was a big help to me that day.

Meet The Caregiver Chroniclers

Glee_Larsen_AnimalCaregiver_FaunaFOundationGlee Larsen

Glee grew up in Washington state, where she cultivated a passion for studying and enjoying nature. She attended college at Central Washington University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Primate Behavior & Ecology, and Biology. Glee was an intern at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, where she met Tatu and Loulis, now residents at Fauna.