Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What do we do in our spare time?

When you have a job and two small kids, talking about spare time is often very optimistic. But somehow, Ingo and I manage to find some activities that we can share with our kids and that really make our day.

Although on chimpandsee we always are studying chimps in the wild, we also are involved with captive chimps sometimes, taking great care for their welfare when they are housed in zoos and sanctuaries. If it was somehow possible, believe me, I myself would open each and every  gate to release the animals. But I´m not intending to start a debate about zoos here; as sad as it often feels, zoos do exist and we need to care.

So, years ago Ingo and I founded an association devoted to animal protection called Kalinga. One of the many goals of Kalinga is to lend a helping hand to the zoos that might need and want it (usually those in the developing countries).

We work mainly, but not exclusively, with elephants in things related to enrichment, foot care, protected contact (PC), improvement of infrastructures, and more general things like environmental education.

For our latest project we didn´t have to travel too far, as it took place here in Germany, in Baden-Württemberg, in a small zoo called Leintalzoo. This zoo is run by an experienced family, and holds the biggest harmonious group of chimps in Germany (33 individuals).  The chimps installation might be shocking at first, especially because we are nowadays used to seeing those big zoos where the animals are kept in islands surrounded by water, so you basically see no barrier, which gives you the feeling of "freedom". But actually, there is a barrier: the water. So, all the space that the water occupies is lost space for the animals. But humans see no gates.

In the Leintalzoo you do see barriers, big iron cages to be more specific. This is really shocking, but put it this way: chimps can move in all three dimensions. They not only can walk, but they can also climb. In fact, the chimps in this zoo have amazing muscles!

Anyway, the chimps enclosure was too empty and boring for our taste. We had to do something!. It wasn´t clear to us if the owners were going to be very happy if we barged in, but after offering our help, they gave us green-light to go ahead :-) . 

We got some fire hoses from the Böblingen Fire Department and we used them to build and hang lianas and hammocks. This is what happened:

this is what the chimps installation looked like: 

Getting started: hanging lianas:

Next step: the hammocks: 

And the very best part of all: the chimps reaction: 

There´s still soooooo much to do, but we are moving in the right direction.

I hope you liked it :-)

@Pugli and @NuriaM

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