In Zambia I interned at a sanctuary for chimpanzees and spent my days working in close proximity with the animals. My tasks included: behavior enrichment, food preparation, boundary patrol, enclosure cleaning, farming assistance, bush walk, chimp observation and vet assistance. The task of behavior enrichment was the most meaningful for me. This involved volunteers preparing different experiences for the chimpanzees, such as sensation stimulation, problem solving and social interaction. For instance another volunteer and I created a wooden maze for the chimpanzees.
Teamwork is the best thing I learned at Chimfunshi. When you live in the middle of the forest you have to cooperate with everyone, share your ideas with them and respect every individuals’ difference. While doing physical work like farming, I recognized the big difference between everyone working separately and everyone working collaboratively. During the preparation for chimpanzee behavior enrichment, working collaboratively means someone can see the blind spot of another volunteer’s idea and make a better plan. All of this is team building and it is the basis of developing friendship.