Nest grunts

October 11th, 2010 by Jackie

Recently there was a discussion on our Facebook page about Nest Grunts. When the chimps are getting settled into their nests at night they will often make a hoohuhhoohuh sound which is called a nest grunt. Chimps in the wild will often make these vocalizations to check in with each other before bedtime. We’ve been trying to catch the vocalization on tape for the blog for some time now, and we were finally successful! It’s definitely one of my favorite times of the night.

15 Responses to “Nest grunts”

  1. marie cross (uk) says:

    thats so lovely , i can see why that would be your favourite time of day , but whats best seeing the chimps settle down or going in to see them all first thing in the morning 🙂 x ?

  2. Peter Cross (uk) says:

    Thats wonderful to hear, with a touch of the Waltons with every one checking in with one another. Good Night Jackie, Good Night John Boy (I mean JB) Night all.

  3. Kate says:

    This is so lovely!! Thank you for taking the time to capture it for us to hear. It brings to mind one of my favorite lines from “Where the Wild Things Are”…..”We’re the Wild Things and we take care of each other and sleep in a big pile together.”

  4. Amy says:

    Thank you! That was so touching to hear. You’re very lucky to be so near to them.

  5. Cindy says:

    A few days ago someone asked me if chimps laugh and I explained that they laugh differently but we immediately recognize the sound as laughter and unconsciously respond. It seems the same with the nest grunts, I just instinctively felt a family saying “good night”….really sweet and special. BTW, good one Peter!!!!

  6. Lori Gruen says:

    I wonder who thought of calling these “grunts”? They are nothing of the sort to me, more like sympathetic and reassuring acknowledgments. Would be nice to rename these calls.

  7. Linda (Portland, OR) says:

    That was perfect Jackie! Always wondered how their day ended. Is it lights out at the same time every night? Do any of the chimps “not” like to go to bed/sleep at night?

  8. chimp pal says:

    I marvel at all the ideas you come up with for the videos. Is there no end to your cleverness? We are all thankfull for the great work you are doing for our special chimps. Happy Thanksgiving from Canada.

  9. Jackie says:

    I can’t say for sure, but I believe Jane Goodall first coined the term. There is a ton of individual variation in how the vocalization sounds (as with most vocalizations), and some do sound like grunts but overall, I agree with you. To me, it’s almost like the “ahhhh” sound we make when we crawl into bed for the night. 🙂

    We usually leave around 5:30 every night. Everyone is usually already in their nests by then, however, Foxie does often pass us a troll just as we are walking out the door– almost like she’s trying to stall us. 🙂

  10. Jeani Goodrich says:

    Leave it to Foxie… “Mommy I want another drink of water.”
    It is so comforting to hear the nest grunts and yes Jackie I agree it does remind one of the ahhh of getting in to bed and stretching out after the long day. Those nest grunts will be etched in my brain for a long time and I will be thinking of the chimps as I climb in and make my own nest grunts!

  11. Theresa says:

    That would have to be the best goodnight ever to listen to! What a wonderful way to end the day. You all are so lucky to be doing what you love for a living!

  12. Kaite says:

    oh, that’s wonderful! Reminded me of Cider House Rules… “Good Night you prince and princesses of Washington, good night you King and Queens of the pacific northwest…” – makes me wish there was a nighttime meditation tape with nest grunts on it! How comforting would that be! Like a cool primitive genetic memory for all of us….or, like, one of those toys they give newborns that has a heartbeat – what if there was a chimp doll that did nest grunts. Very sweet! I loved this one. I wish there were more videos of their bedtime routine…(do they every sleep in a heap? curled up together? or is sleeping a solitary thing once you are a chimp adult?

  13. marie cross (uk) says:

    Kaite what a wonderful idea a tape of nest grunts to slumber too , on the B can side we have some chimp giggles too 🙂

  14. Jackie says:


    The chimps usually make nests either upstairs in the playroom or on the benches in the front rooms. They usually make their own nests (or will steal someone elses’), but sometimes they will make nests next to each other.

  15. Lisa says:

    How fascinating! I continue to learn so much about the Chimps from your website. Thank you (and great job spelling ‘hoohuhhohuh!).