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Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Kwanza Kiota (first nest)
I have studied chimpanzees in captivity for more than three years; I have read countless articles and watched numerous documentaries on chimpanzees and really felt I had a good grasp on their behavior before observing them in the wild. However, I had no idea what to expect while getting ready to travel to Gombe National Park for the first time. While hiking with Rachel Santymire and our field assistant, Magombe, on our third day of chimping (what we call observing the chimpanzees), the behavior that was the most striking to me was the mundane behavior of building a nest.
This was our second hike of the day, so Rachel and I were determined to see chimps. We were walking along a path when we came across Gaia, an adult female. We then proceeded to observe her feed and travel through the forest for about two hours. Finally, the day came to a close when Gaia selected a tree to nest in for the night. She climbed to the top of the tree and proceeded to bend large branches to form a nest. Listening to the snapping of the branches, we could feel her strength, but at the same time it also had a delicate touch to it. Maybe it was just the serenity from watching a hard day¹s work come to a close, but to me it was an incredible experience to watch this simple behavior.
As a disclaimer, I will try to sprinkle in some Swahili terms as I build my vocabulary, so there may be a few grammatical errors, especially as I begin.
Gombe Field Diaries
Lincoln Park Zoo is partnering with the Jane Goodall Institute to study and conserve chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park, the site of Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking research. Our Gombe field diaries feature updates as scientists monitor chimpanzee health, study ape behavior and experience life in Gombe.
As director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lonsdorf leads Lincoln Park Zoo efforts in Gombe National Park.
Rachel Santymire, Ph.D.
An endocrinologist in the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, Santymire studies stress and reproduction in Gombe's chipmanzees.
A graduate student in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago, Matt is studying how levels of play in Gombe¹s chimpanzees influence stress, development and reproductive success.
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