Morning Exploration

July 8th, 2017 by Diana

On these summer mornings, when there’s still a slight coolness to the air and the sun is low in the sky, the chimpanzees often explore the outdoor habitat. They head out on their own, in pairs, or sometimes as a group, generally splitting off to do some private exploration. They go to the top of the towers to see if the landscape has changed, and they pick edible plants for an after-breakfast snack.

We don’t often get photos of this morning exploration because the humans are busy starting the cleaning for the day.

Today, however, we have a full house of volunteers! I took advantage of the help and went to the top of the observation tower to take a few photos while Deb, Lynn, Rachel, and Dusty scrubbed and disinfected the playroom.

I had to use the telephoto lens to identify the tiny specs of chimps in the distance and even that lens wasn’t able to zoom in very close with the chimps at the very top of the two-acre enclosure. They would sometimes disappear completely, hidden by the tall summer grass. I love watching them out on their own with no concern for the human activity in the building, just soaking in the day.


Missy and Annie:

missy and annie on tower

missy and annie on bridge



missy holding structure

missy on mound


Missy and Annie heading back to the greenhouse:

missy and annie coming back to greenhouse


Jody foraging for prickly lettuce:

jody foraging

jody with weeds


Jamie doing her own thing:

jamie tightrope walking


5 Responses to “Morning Exploration”

  1. Kathleen says:

    Beautiful photos Diana! Thanks for sneaking off to capture the chimps, they look so wild and free and it really touches me deeply. It looks as if your two acre hill is endless open space and I guess, in a way, it is. Oh what I would give to sit all morning long and observe my friends from this perspective ……..BYOB. Bring Your Own Binoculars!

  2. Karen says:

    Diana, these are outstanding photos. The chimps look fabulous, loving chimp life on Young’s Hill in that fantastic watch tower structure. It is always so special to see the beauty of the sanctuary. Thanks for sharing! Karen and Don

  3. Jo says:

    It makes my heart soooooo happy to see them free (as they can be) and happy! Blessings to you all and hugs and kisses too XO

  4. Elaine Reininger says:

    Love Jamie’s tightrope walk act best of all. She’s got that balancing trick down pat. What a wonderful structure you people built for them and you get your reward for doing it daily. No wonder their muscles are so firm when you compare what they looked like when they arrived from the lab cages.

  5. Merle Rosenzweig says:

    Humans need to enjoy nature more as much as the Chimps do!