Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Travels to the South and the North

I've been traveling these past two weeks, first to a TNC workshop in lovely Sanibel Island, Florida, and then to the equally lovely city of Chicago, where I met the other Smith Fellows for a retreat at the Lincoln Park Zoo (LPZ).

Appropriately, we spent the majority of our time at the LPZ in the Great Ape House, where we saw an experiment examining taste preference in chimpanzees. A false termite mound in the chimp enclosure is seeded with different sauces - peanut butter, bbq, ketchup, vinegar - and the scientists can do taste tests to see what flavors chimps prefer, and how the social structure of the chimp group affects an individual's access to condiment resources.

The chimpanzees use sticks to access the condiments, and we saw what zoo intern (a term which does her extensive knowledge and experience no justice) Kathy described as "the most explicit demonstration of tool sharing [she] had ever witnessed," when a crafty adolescent female chimp, coaxed by submissive smiles and an outstretched palm, passed her stick to her mother. How I failed to get this momentous instant on camera is completely beside me.

Instead, here are a few photos of the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel, where I cleverly brought my camera.

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