GAP Brazil: Great Apes Sanctuary of Sorocaba, negotiation with a chimpanzee

Posted in 29/01/2018

Chimpanzee Lucke (GAP)

This Sunday I was in chimp Lucke’s enclosure, as I usually do when I am in the Sanctuary – to take some food that he most appreciates. While he played with the pocket of my coat, I took a nap. Usually I keep my keys in my pants pocket, where I wake up if he tries to pick them. But this time, because it was a quick stop, since Sunday we work part-time and we have to run to do all our tasks, I left the keys in one of the pockets of the jacket.

It was the greatest gift I could give him. Although the possibility of him opening 3 different locks with 3 keys of a locksmith with 10 was remote, for him this existed. When I woke up, Lucke was trying to find the key that opened the first padlock, when I asked him to give me back, he ran off. I knew it would be difficult to convince him. I tried it anyway, but it did not work. I called the handlers’ cell phone to bring me new keys, because I was stuck with Lucke in his room. The padlocks are on the inside and I started to open with the keys to leave.

I left, pretending I was mad at him, but he stuffed the keys into any hole pretending he was opening the doors. We locked him inside the enclosure, since on the outside, with thousands of meters, we would not find the keys anymore. Other handlers tried to persuade him, but he did not disconnect himself from the keys at any moment.

At the end of the day, I came back with an old coat, which he had already seen me wearing. I went into the room and offered him the coat in exchange for the keys. He accepted, then I helped him put on the coat, which is kind of complicated. It has a hood he likes to wear on rainy days.

Negotiating with a chimpanzee – when he knows he has something you like a lot, such as keys, cell phones, etc. -is an operation of patience. Just for something he appreciates a lot, he’ll be willing to trade. Lucke is fascinated by clothes, from the time he lived in a circus, but a coat is more difficult to win.

The photos show Lucke enjoying the coat, even in the hot weather. He walked everywhere, showing off with him.

Dr. Pedro A. Ynterian

Secretary General, GAP International Project