One of Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking discoveries was that chimpanzees make and use tools to “fish” for termites. In the wild, chimpanzees will use sticks or stems to extract termites from their nests. In captivity, this task can be replicated by providing chimpanzees an opportunity to use tools to “fish” – not for termites, but for applesauce, ketchup, or anything that will stick to the end of a stick. Artificial termite mounds are constructed of steel and concrete, with holes leading to removable PVC tubes inside the mound. The tubes are filled with applesauce, placed in the mound, and bamboo is provided to the chimpanzees as tools. The chimpanzees will spend hours working every last drop out of the tubes!
Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Greenbaum Foundation, a total of 34 termite mounds have been funded. Thank you to our other supporters who funded an additional 8. With funding now complete, each island will have three mounds and as will each of our Special Needs Play Yards. (Multiple mounds reduces competition and gives all of the chimpanzees a chance to fish for the goodies.)
Three artificial termite mounds have been installed on Freddy’s Island. When the mounds were first installed, only a handful of chimpanzees figured out the task right away. But as time went on, the chimpanzees learned from each other and now nearly all of the chimps in the group know exactly what to do. The chimpanzees get very excited when they see that the mounds are being filled! We hope you will help us ensure that all of the islands have termite mounds installed so that each resident has the opportunity to partake in this enriching activity.
The additional mounds are under construction. We look forward to sharing more images and video of the chimpanzees enjoying them.
Enjoy this video of Freddy’s family using their termite mound enrichment for the first time.