For decades we have known that wild chimpanzees use tools in hundreds of ways, including but not limited to termite fishing, using leaves as sponges, and cracking open hard fruits using stone anvils. The following video of chimpanzees in the Goualougo Triangle shows a variety of applications of tool use by chimpanzees. (more…)
In the Chimphouse, meal time is always a happy time. Growing up, how many of us enjoyed meals at the dinner table with family? We try to emulate this feeling with the chimpanzees when we serve them their home cooked meals. The kitchen is in the centre of our building and the chimps have access to front rooms right in the middle of the action where they can watch the food being prepared by our chef at meal time.
To say that my summer spent at the Fauna Foundation as a visiting intern was transformative would be an understatement. A sanctuary such as this remarkable facility is one of the few places on Earth where one witnesses on a daily basis the best and worst of what humanity has to offer—the best being those who selflessly dedicate their lives to making the residents comfortable, and the worst of course, being the reminiscent evidence of harm inflicted on those without the means to evade it. Fortunately, the residents of the Fauna Foundation are in excellent hands.
Positive Reinforcement Training (PRT) is part of operant learning and is used in many different settings to teach performance of several different kinds of behaviors. The underlying process is that the student learns to associate a behavior with a positive reinforcement which is a reward. The reinforcement is food and the sound is called a bridge. The bridge signals that food is coming. The student first learns the association with the sound together with the food, so the sound alone becomes a positive reinforcement. If you’ve ever heard of Pavlov’s dog salivating to the ring of a bell, this is the same thing; classical conditioning. (more…)