In July of 1960, Dr. Jane Goodall arrived to Gombe Stream National Park where she would discover that chimpanzees make and use tools. She observed chimpanzees altering twigs and poking them into termite mounds to fish out and eat the termites. This was a ground-breaking discovery because at the time, tool making was thought to be only a characteristic of humans, setting us apart from the animal world. When she telegraphed Dr. Leakey about her groundbreaking observation, he responded “Now we must redefine ‘tool,’ redefine ‘man,’ or accept chimpanzees as humans.”

At Save the Chimps, we offer a variety of enriching experiences for our residents including replicating activities they would experience in the wild. Each of the twelve islands that our chimpanzee residents call home are equipped with artificial termite mounds.

These concrete mounds are fitted with pipes to replicate the holes in termite mounds. The pipes are removed by staff and filled with items such as apple sauce for our residents to fish out. Chimpanzees, like Allie and Debbie in this video, will search the island for the perfect stick to poke into the hole and retrieve the treat.

In the video, you will even see Debbie and Allie altering their tools by stripping the sticks to a thinner point, before fishing for the treats. This is one of the many enrichment activities to keep our residents active and engaged while they enjoy their retirement in sanctuary.

Donate to support our residents’ enrichment program. On behalf of the more than 220 chimpanzees in our care, thank you for your compassion and generosity.