At the CRPL we have 12 chimpanzee infants who all live in a cage together. They range in age from about 1 to 3 ½ years old. In the wild, chimpanzees are very dependent on their mothers until they are quite old; because of this we have a caregiver in with the babies for 24 hours a day. This caregiver becomes the nurturer, cleaner, disciplinarian, protector and more to these little chimpanzees because they don’t have their mothers with them. Papy and Armani, our two caregivers both work rotating 24 hours shifts with the babies. Both Papy and Armani love the babies and are very good with them. They hug and play with them all of the time, but are also very good at encouraging them to grow and learn.
At about 5pm when it is getting dark and cold here in Lwiro the babies and their caregiver move into the dormitory attached to the cage. This is such a wonderful sight to see and probably one of my favorite times a day (although, it is hard to choose when you live and work here). The babies all march inside, sometimes walking with a friend, sometimes swinging in from a rope!
I have always been curious to see what exactly happened within the dormitory at night. I often ask the caregivers ‘who sleeps where’ and ‘with whom’! With these questions in mind I decided to send my camera into the dormitory for the night with Papy. I did wonder if I would ever see the camera again in one piece. The pictures below are the result. It seems that although there is room for everyone to have some space to him or herself, they like to sleep directly on top of one another. This no doubt gives them comfort and warmth!