Monday, October 14, 2002

OBSERVING CHIMPANZEES AT CHCI

Earthwatch program stirs monkey business
MARCIA SCHNEDLER Universal Press Syndicate on Sunday, October 13

My anxiety level rose as I glanced at the 14 strangers meeting in the basement recreation room of a university dormitory in bucolic Ellensburg, Wash., 110 miles west of Seattle. At age 59, I was the only old coot in the crowd.

As a birthday present, my husband, Jack, had presented me with a two-week Earthwatch trip to the Chimpanzee and Human Communications Institute (CHCI) at Central Washington University.

I would assist in collecting and entering data on how chimpanzees use enrichment activities and items like toys, cardboard boxes and sweatshirts provided for them each day. The goal is to find out which are most beneficial for them and other captive apes like those in the Arkansas zoo where I volunteer. I also would help prepare meals, clean the chimps' nighttime living quarters and lend a hand in other projects....