Research/Care Blog

Cardboard Feeders: Green Enrichment by Adrienne Mrsny

Ndume opens one of his new cardboard feeders

Date Added: 2009-08-30

1. Introduction

Piñatas are a fun way to encourage problem solving and distribute food to the gorillas. Unfortunately, piñatas are not a suitable enrichment because of the above considerations.  When faced with the challenge of finding an alternative to piñatas, I looked to cardboard. Cardboard offers the flexibility to be made into different shapes, the durability to stand up to the roughness of a gorilla’s curiosity and the benefit of reusing a forest resource.

Shown below are two of my cardboard feeder designs, the star and fish. They are an easy and fast alternative to piñatas. They are easy to refill with food and simple to repair.  They can be made with holes so when shaken food can fall out or completely sealed closed so the gorillas have to pry the sides open to get to the food.  With colorful designs painted on them they are stimulating for the animal to look at and play with. Their applications are incredibly diverse, and they can be used for almost any terrestrial species as a simple feeder that encourages problem solving.

2. The Project

The Star and Fish feeders are typically used on holidays or special events a few times a year. They can be filled with the morning’s browse (vegetables, lettuce, fruit, etc.) or popcorn for a special treat.  I typically make 15-30 of them for a special event for our two gorillas.

By contacting a local grocery store we were able to obtain various types of boxes that were intended for their recycling. Water bottle flats and shipping boxes also work well. For larger projects, produce vendors can be contacted about donating watermelon or apple boxes. These large shipping and display boxes are 3 feet high and 4 feet long, made of triple thickness cardboard and are great for larger enrichment ideas.

The following template designs are based upon fruit/vegetable boxes.  Each item takes about 20 minutes from tracing the outline onto the box, to putting the final touches of paint on it. Painting decorations are made with nontoxic tempura children’s paint for aesthetic/stimulating value (for both human and gorilla), or left plain to give it a more natural look.   String can be attached for hanging purposes around the enclosure, from mesh or trees. Or they can be laid around the enclosure hidden amongst permanent fixtures and other enclosure items. If there is concern with the animal ingesting the string keep pieces short or don’t hang them. Additionally, Velcro sewn on ribbon is a great alternative to string and is reusable.

Figure 1: Top view of unfolded cutouts for FISH and STAR

*The fish is a complicated design, and too long to fit in this article, photos and directions will be available on our website under our CAREGIVER CORNER section. If you have any questions please email me at


3. How to Make a Cardboard STAR

Figure 2: Steps 1-3 of Creating STAR Cutouts

STEP 1: With 1 complete fruit box (top and bottom) you can make 2 stars

STEP 2: Pry the box open at the seams, so that it is a long side that can lay flat. The seams are usually lightly glued together and can be easily pulled apart.

STEP 3: Separate the individual sides by cutting at the seams


Figure 3: Step 4 of Creating Star Cutouts

STEP 4: Trace the above template out on two of the larger sides of the opened box. I recommend doing this on the side you don’t want visiblers


Figure 4: Step 4 of Creating Star Cutouts

STEP 5: Cut out the design and fold the sides inward. Using a ruler helps you get a straight and tight fold. The sides that are folded over are 1.75” wide.


Figure 5: Steps 6-7 of Creating Star Cutouts

STEP 6: Line up the two sides of the star, with the folded flaps on top of each other in an alternating pattern.  Using a sharp object punch a hole through both flaps, towards the center of the flap

STEP 7: Using twine, knot it then push it through the hole from inside to outside. Tie it tightly on the outside of the box. Cut any excess string, or leave long to hang the star by.


Figure 6: Finishing Steps 8-10 of Creating Star Cutouts

STEP 8: Paint the star and let it dry.

STEP 9: Stuff paper in the bottom corners of the star if you are planning to hang it, so food doesn’t fall out.  Then fill with vegetables, fruit or a special treat.

STEP 10: Place the stars in the enclosure and watch your gorillas have fun investigating their new enrichment.

4. How to Make a Cardboard FISH

Figure 7: Steps 1-3 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 1: With 1 complete fruit box (top and bottom) you can make 2 stars.

STEP 2: Pry the box open at the seams, so that it is a long side that can lay flat. The seams are usually lightly glued together and can be easily pulled apart.

STEP 3: Separate the individual sides by cutting at the seams.


Figure 8: Steps 4-5 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 4: Trace the above template out on two of the larger sides of the opened box. I recommend doing this on the side you don’t want visible.

STEP 5: Cut out the design and fold the sides inward. Using a ruler helps you get a straight and tight fold. The sides that are folded over are 1.75” wide.


Figure 9: Steps 6-7 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 6: Line up the two ends of the fish tail, with one folded flaps on top of the other. Using a sharp object punch a hole through both flaps at the top and bottom of the fin.

STEP 7: Using twine, knot it then push it through the hole from inside to outside. Tie it tightly on the outside of the box. Cut any excess string.


Figure 10: Steps 8-9 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 8: Punch a hole through the two top flaps and attach them. String can be left long here if you want to hang the fish.

STEP 9: Fold over the two top flaps so they lay flush with the sides of the fish.


Figure 11: Step 10 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 10: Fold over and secure the two top front flaps with twine. Fold them so they alternate with the top flap..


Figure 12: Steps 11-13 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 11: Fold the front triangular flap under the flap of the same side with the flap from the opposite side on the very top. Punch a hole through the two large flaps and secure them in place with twine.

STEP 12: : Fold over the bottom two flaps so they alternate with the bottom front flaps and secure with twine.

STEP 13: Fold in the two back flaps so they are flush with the fish.


Figure 13: Steps 14-15 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 14: Paint the fish and let it dry.

STEP 15: Fill the fish with vegetables, fruit or a special treat by pulling open the top flaps near the back fin.


Figure 14: Final Step 16 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 16: Place the fish in the enclosure and watch your gorillas have fun investigating their new enrichment.

5. Results

The design was improved to it is present looks, based upon the observations of the gorillas interaction with them.  When each animal was introduced to the item, a caregiver filled out a record sheet tracking the gorillas’ interaction. The caregivers numerically ranked how successful it was according to: individual/group response, duration of interest, and safety concerns. Based upon this, adjustments were made to optimize the effectiveness of the design.

Both gorillas knew when the enrichment was being put in the yard and become visibly excited, gesturing and vocalized to be let out into the yard. Success was gauged by interest in the items along with determination and time taken to access the contents. The feeders proved successful since the gorillas came back to it throughout the day to see if they overlooked any food. Our silverback (Ndume, shown above) was seen carrying one of the cardboard fish around throughout the day.

Designs could be easily made larger or smaller to accommodate other animals and primates. It is a fun and easy craft for staff or volunteers that can be made as simple or complex to fit the species’ needs.

Research/Care Blog

Ndume's Birthday Treats (and Tricks) by Adrienne Mrsny

Ndume prepares to open a pumpkin

Date Added: 2009-11-24

October is always a busy time at the Gorilla Foundation.  Ndume’s Birthday, on October 10th,  is the first major event of the month for the gorillas.  Planning for the unpredictable fall weather, we try to create activities for the gorillas that will work both in- and out-of doors.  This year however, we were hit by a terrific storm on the day of Ndume’s planned birthday celebration.  The threat of hurricane-level winds and torrential rains forced us to postpone the outdoor part of the celebration.  However, it didn’t stop us from celebrating our favorite silverback’s 28th birthday indoors.

Knowing that the weather would leave the yard too wet for a gorilla celebration, we had a wonderful day of extra indoor enrichment that began with cases of empty water bottles filled with treats and browse (raw vegetables and freshly-picked plants).  To keep things exciting inside while the weather was inclement outside, Ndume’s room was filled with fuzzy blankets, large stuffed animals, a huge plush pillow, and brightly colored plastic balls. 

When lunchtime came, both gorillas got a special feast.  The day’s regular foods were complemented by some special dishes: vegan heavenly hash, aspic with fruits, 75% dark chocolate alligators with nuts, sweet potato chips and delicious drinks of apricot nectar with sparkling water.

  Birthday Lunch  
  Lunch Tray for Ndume's Birthday
(Photo by Adrienne Mrsny, caregiver. © 2009 the Gorilla Foundation)

A few days later, when the weather was nicer and the ground had dried, we had a second day of celebration that included our original outdoor enrichment plans for Ndume’s birthday.   This year, we gorilla-ized a childhood classic — building blocks.  With a little work we transformed fruit boxes into brightly colored building blocks and assorted Lego®-like objects. We then transformed the yard into a children’s playroom, with doll houses and jungle gyms as well as the new “cardboard toys.”  The enrichment fit in so well that it took Ndume a while to figure out what was different about the yard.  Once he realized the boxes held special birthday treats, no box was left unturned.

  Birthday Lunch  
  Ndume explores the specially arranged play yard
(Photo by Adrienne Mrsny, caregive. © 2009 the Gorilla Foundation)

The ” building blocks” were simple to make.  Donated fruit boxes were cleaned up and painted with bright colors.  We filled the inside of each box with different types of materials: packing paper, sheets, pillowcases, bubble wrap and typing paper.  Hidden amongst these was the day’s browse: green beans, cucumbers and celery, plus some special treats: both roasted and dark chocolate-covered nuts.  Some of the synthetic building blocks had plastic cups placed on top to resemble the studs on top of Legos®.  These cups were filled with paper balls:  some with treats inside, and others empty.

  Blocks Blocks Box  
  Preparation of the 'Building Blocks'
  (Photos by Piper Dwight, caregiver. © 2009 the Gorilla Foundation)  

Once the birthday festivities were over, we turned our attention to another gorilla-treasured celebration: Halloween.  As in previous years,  we were blessed with donated pumpkins from Farmer John in Half Moon Bay, California.  This year he gave us two 200 pound pumpkins, and fifteen other smaller pumpkins for carving.  The gorillas were in for quite a treat.

  Birthday Lunch  
  Caregivers Adrienne Mrsny, Kim Schreiner and Caitlin O'Donoghue
pose with one of the 200 pounders

  (Photo by Kim Schreiner, caregiver. © 2009 the Gorilla Foundation)  

Last year we noticed that Ndume did not play with the pumpkins as expected.  So, at the time, we cut a lid off of one, and let him look inside, hoping that would spark his interest.  As this had little effect, we then hollowed out another pumpkin, and stuck green beans into its inner skin.  When Ndume discovered the pumpkin with the green beans,  he quickly ate all of the beans, then moved around the yard smashing pumpkins to look inside for more beans.  While Ndume found no other beans last year, he did successfully smash every remaining pumpkin in the yard—purring loudly as he completed his mission.

  Box   Ndume  
  Green beans “growing” from the inside of a pumpkin   Ndume reaching inside for the beans  
  Ndume   Ndume  
  Ndume reaches for another pumpkin . . .   . . . to inspect for inner green beans.  
  Ndume   Ndume  
  Ndume opens a pumpkin . . .   . . . only to find it devoid of beans  
  (Photos by Kim Schreiner, caregiver. © 2009 the Gorilla Foundation)  

This year,  Ndume immediately smashed the first pumpkin he came across. After looking inside and finding nothing, he lost interest.  For a number of days, he returned to the yard and smashed at least one pumpkin to look inside for beans.  Finally, Ndume witnessed Koko  modeling the “correct” way to approach a pumpkin, and realized there was something even more delicious inside — raw pumpkin seeds!

  Ndume   Koko  
  Ndume gets the hang of eating pumpkin seeds . . .   . . . by watching Koko  
  (Photos by Kim Schreiner, caregiver. © 2009 the Gorilla Foundation)  

As the days grow shorter and the air grows crisper in Northern California, the gorilla’s indoor and outdoor environments remain both fun and full of treats (and tricks).  Recently,  we caregivers decided to join in and “become” the enrichment by dressing up as characters from the Wizard of Oz.  Anything to please (and enrich) a captive gorilla audience.

  Caregivers Tyler Robertson, Kim Schreiner and Piper Dwight, aka,
the Wizard, Dorothy and the Strawman, respectively.
(Photo by Cameron Mrsny, volunteer. © 2009 the Gorilla Foundation)

Research/Care Blog

Research/Care Blog: Polite Gorilla Meets New Team Member

Koko signs POLITE

Date Added: 2010-02-16

As a newcomer to the Gorilla Foundation family, my interaction with the gorillas is limited. Ndume is still a bit wary of me. Although he tolerates my presence on the grounds, we haven't gotten very close to one another yet. Koko, on the other hand, has been quite friendly and we have enjoyed several nice 'porch visits.' My visits with her usually involve sitting quietly next to each other or me 'sleeping' next to her. She often likes her visitors to 'sleep,' which ensures that Koko can assess her now-quiet visitor at her leisure. Koko also likes to see people's dental work, so at her request I've shown her the inside of my mouth several times. All in all, from what Penny and the caregivers tell me, Koko seems to like me.

Given this, I was surprised at Koko's unexpected behavior during a recent visit. Upon my arrival, I sat down in my usual spot on the porch. Even before I was fully seated, she abruptly stood up and walked away. I remained where I was and waited to see what happened next. Penny asked Koko what was wrong. Penny very quickly figured out that Koko had wanted to have her snack before visiting with me. As soon as Koko knew that Penny figured it out (and that her snack was indeed coming soon), Koko sat down next to me and looked directly into my eyes. Then she signed that she is a 'polite' gorilla and asked me to 'sleep.' As I laid down and 'slept,' I was very touched by the fact that my new gorilla friend had felt the need to apologize to me for her previous behavior.

Research/Care Blog

Koko Hosts Pumpkin Design Contest for Students

Koko sitting next to the winning pumpkin, lit from within

Date Added: 2009-10-30
This Halloween, the Gorilla Foundation hosted a Pumpkin Face Design Contest and invited students at Kings Mountain Elementary School in Woodside California to participate. About 80 students submitted their most creative pumpkin face designs for Koko, and some were quite fantastic.

The winning design (shown at left) was selected by Koko herself and carved onto a real pumpkin by Gorilla Foundation Enrichment Specialist, ***Adrienne Mrsny. Note that the winning design was particularly intricate, with many teeth, eyeballs and even ears (in fact it was the only design with ears), but Adrienne was more than up to the challenge and did a fantastic job with the carving.

On Friday, October 31st, the Gorilla Foundation conducted a brief award ceremony at Kings Mountain School, as part of their annual Halloween celebration. The winning designer, Kyle Nierman (3rd grade) received a glossy photo of Koko picking his design –

Research/Care Blog

Caregiver Corner: 'Tender moments with Koko' by Jill

Koko is even sweet to her baby dolls

Date Added: 2006-05-22
Here are a couple of examples of how sweet Koko is:

One afternoon Koko and I were watching PBS. They were showing a program on the special bond between a mother and daughter. Koko was sitting at the mesh next to me and I was lying on the floor on a blanket with my head turned watching the program. As I listened to the daughters telling stories about their mothers it made me think of my Mom who passed away a few years ago. Tears started to stream out of my eyes and down my face. Koko kissed to get my attention. I looked over at her and the look on her face was of pure concern. I explained to her that the program made me think of my Mom who had died and that it made me sad, but that I was really okay. Koko purred softly for me. I turned my attention back to the program to watch when Koko kissed at me again. I turned to look at her. You’re sweet Koko. Every time I turned to watch the program Koko would kiss at me to turn away. She did not want me to watch it since it upset me. When Koko does not want to watch a program she will ask us to change it. She did not want me to change the program because she was watching it. She did however, not want me to watch it and be upset.

Another morning after I finished cleaning Koko’s rooms I took my place on the floor next to her at the mesh. A small long legged spider crawled into the mesh and onto the floor next to Koko. Koko purred and put her big gorilla hand down next to the spider so it could climb onto her hand. She let the spider crawl part way up her arm, then put her other hand in front of the spider so it would crawl on that hand and up her other arm. She did this a few times and then put the spider down between her feet like she does with her favorite toys, or when she has kitten visitors. It was amazing to me that someone so big could be so very gentle with something so tiny.

Research/Care Blog

Ndume's Birthday Mural by Laura & Christa

Ndume and his New Mural

Date Added: 2005-12-07
What do you get a gorilla who has everything? This thought was running through caregiver Laura Mullen’s mind as she attempted to pick out a present for Ndume’s 24th birthday. Besides giving him what he always wants, good food and lots of it, Laura wanted to do something special, something that he could enjoy for months to come. After much deliberation, Laura came up with the idea of painting a jungle mural in Ndume’s room, in the building we refer to as X. An excellent idea, the enriching mural would provide Ndume with a new more interesting environment to spend his days.
  Ndume's New Language Board

The Gorilla Foundation’s library provided many accurate references for the incorporation of native habitat plants, trees and flowers into the planned jungle scene. Laura enlisted the help of our volunteer Facilities Manager (and Creative Director) and all of the caregivers and set out to paint the walls and resurface the floor. A vibrant green color was chosen for the floor as green has been shown to be calming for captive apes, and the goal was to make his environment as calming and relaxing as possible. On Ndume’s birthday he galloped into the outdoor enclosure and was at first hesitant to enter X. Once he was inside he ran his hands along the floor feeling the smooth new surface and performed an up close inspection of the images of trees and plants on the wall, thoroughly examining his new surroundings. Ndume seems to enjoy his new scenery, happily sitting among the plants and trees.

He also enjoys his new wall-based 'language board' (see partial view at right), which enables him to communicate his wants and needs to both caregivers and Koko without having to learn sign language.

Research/Care Blog

Caregiver Corner: 'Koko's New Friend' by Tierra Wilson

Koko awaits a visit from Chris Mitchell

Date Added: 2005-07-24
The composition of Koko’s team of caregivers and volunteers changes from time to time. Each transition is different and Koko tends to have very definite opinions about individuals in her environment. Koko often seems eager to be part of the interviewing process and sometimes can get frustrated when new people are not brought to meet her as soon as she is aware of their arrival. Koko took a great interest in our new Director of Conservation and Care, Chris Mitchell, when he was here for a site visit earlier this year.

In Koko's responses, the pound symbol (#) after a word indicates that it is a vocalization by Koko; otherwise the word or phrase represents her response in American Sign Language. The kiss# vocalization is commonly used to get someon's attention.

Koko’s New Friend, by Tierra Wilson
April 6, 2005

I am visiting with Koko in her kitchen.

  TW: Would you like your visit with Chris?
  Koko: Koko-love.

  TW: Oh, that’s nice sweetie. You love Chris?
  Koko: Good. (Koko often signs good to mean yes.)

  TW: Should I have him visit you at your porch?
  Koko: Good.

I page Penny to see if they are finished with their meeting. They are not quite done yet.

  TW: They are going to be a few minutes sweetie.
  Koko: Drapes.

Koko likes to have her drapes opened when she is waiting for someone so she can watch them walk up the path. I go out to Koko’s porch and open the drapes.

  Koko: Lower-faketooth. (Koko uses this to refer to her human friends, usually the small circle of caregivers who work in her immediate vicinity.)
  TW: They are going to be a few minutes; they are having a meeting about the gorillas in Africa.

  Koko: Blowkiss. Purr#.
  TW: : I know he can’t wait to see you; they just have to finish their meeting.

Koko waits patiently at her porch.

  Koko: Upper-faketooth.
  TW: They will be down as soon as they are done.

  Koko: Drapes shame.
  TW: Oh sweetie, sometimes waiting makes things even more exciting.

Later that afternoon, Koko visited with Chris and gave an overwhelming purr of approval. She agreed that he was the perfect person to help with her mission of conservation in Africa. We are all now anxiously awaiting his arrival from the UK.

Research/Care Blog

Caregiver Corner: 'Gorilla Cleaning Crew' by K. Kamrani

Ndume loves to

Date Added: 2005-10-18
The following encounter between gorilla Ndume and gorilla caregiver / IT specialist Kambiz Kamrani took place on Sep. 21, 2005 . . .

Having just started a friendship, Ndume and I are learning many things about each other. I have recently engaged in numerous activities with him, such as playing chase and trading items with him, that have shown me the depth of his character in a new light. Ndume showed a new and remarkable side of himself, the caring clean side.

After Ndume eats his lunch, one of the caregivers, Lucas Slavik, lets Ndume out of his room and into the yard. I meet him outside expecting to play with him. Ndume props himself up to my eye level and sits down. He picks up a piece of cloth napkin that was used to hide some browse earlier in the morning.
I sit at the observation table:

  Kambiz:: Hey buddy, can I sit here?
  Ndume: Kiss#.
  Kambiz:: Watcha got there, a napkin?

Ndume picks the napkin up and inspects it very close to his face. He then folds it in his hand and looks elsewhere. I expected that he was just curious and wanted me to initiate some play.

  Kambiz: So are we gonna play chase? Should I start running?

Ndume just looks at me for a minute or two. He then takes the napkin and begins to scrub items around him. He is very intent and focused on his job.

  Kambiz:: Wow buddy, you sure are cleaning! Thanks for doing it. I really appreciate it.
  Ndume: Kiss#, Kiss#.
  Kambiz:: You’re a very thoughtful guy, did you know that?

Ndume scrubs away. Then discards the napkin.

  Ndume: Clap#
  Kambiz:: What’s that buddy, no more cleaning? Time for chase?
  Ndume: Kiss#.
  Kambiz:: All right, you run first.

Ndume runs to the other side of the mesh and we run around for almost half an hour. He claps some more, spins, and gallops. He slows down and I sit next to him.

  Kambiz:: INdume, I wanted to thank you for cleaning. You’re so sweet sometimes.
  Ndume: Kiss#.

Research/Care Blog

Caregiver Corner: 'Wet Winter Days' by Christa Nunes

Koko examines her new raincoat

Date Added: 2006-03-06
Journal Entry: February 27, 2006

Koko loves raincoats. During the wet winters here in Northern California, there are many opportunities to put them to use. Koko recently received a bright yellow raincoat as a gift from one of our very dedicated volunteers. Koko tried to put it on, but it didn’t quite fit. She was able to detach the hood, and was carrying that around with her when I entered the room.

  Christa: You have a hood.
I have one too.
  Koko: Purr#

I put the hood of my raincoat over my head. Koko puts her yellow hood on top of her head and signs HAT on it several times.

Koko takes the hood off her head and puts it on her foot.

  Christa: Now you have a yellow shoe.
  Koko: Purr#

Koko works on her nest, adding blankets and carefully placing the rest of the rain jacket on the top of her nest. This location is reserved for Koko’s favorite blankets or fabric as the top layer will be in view while she sits in the middle of her nest. Sometimes Koko will spend 10-15 minutes building a nest before she sits and rests.


# Note: In Koko's responses above, the pound symbol (#) after a word indicates that it is a vocalization by Koko; otherwise the word or phrase represents her response in American Sign Language. For example, Koko uses the PURR# vocalization when she is happy, and typically makes the KISS# vocalization when she wants to get someone's attention.

Research/Care Blog

Caregiver Corner: 'Bedtime with Koko' by Jill

Koko likes to

Date Added: 2005-08-29
During the summer months when the days are longer, the gorilla’s bedtime routines start at 5:30pm. They get their last meals of the day, and are closed in for the night.

(In Koko's responses, the pound symbol (#) after a word indicates that it is a vocalization by Koko; otherwise the word or phrase represents her response in American Sign Language. The kiss# vocalization is commonly used to get someon's attention.)

Bedtime with Koko, by Jill Firstenberg
May 7, 2005

Most evenings Penny and Ron put Koko to bed. Recently, on Saturday evenings, I have started doing the bedtime routine with Koko. As this is a new routine for me, I rely on Koko's help in making sure I don't forget anything. Koko knows her bedtime routine very well as you will see below.

I enter Koko's rooms with her bedtime meal at 5:35pm.

  Koko: Purr#.
  Jill:: Hi Sweetie, are you ready for bedtime?
  Koko: Good. Purr#. (Koko often signs good to mean yes.)
  Jill:: Okay, Koko, now I'm new at this so any help you can give me is greatly appreciated.
  Koko: Purr#.

As I’m reading through the instructions for Koko's bedtime routine, Koko moves near me at the mesh that separates us and kisses. (The kiss# vocalization is commonly used to get a caregiver’s attention.)

  Koko: Kiss#. Do there. (Koko points to her refrigerator in her kitchen where we keep the juice that she drinks, diluted with water, to wash down her supplements.)

I silently read the bedtime routine instructions: First prepare bedtime drink from juice in the refrigerator, then give Koko the contents of her evening supplement packet.

  Koko: Do there. (Koko points to supplement packet on the counter.)
  Jill:: Well, I don't really need to read this, you know what to do.
  Koko: Purr#.

Koko takes her supplements, has her drink, then gets some blankets and goes and sits in her connecting smaller room, known as her B room.

  Koko: Do there. (Koko points to the hydraulic gate controls.)

I continue to read down the list of bedtime routine instructions: Move Koko to her B room and close hydraulic gate.

  Jill:: I don't even need this paper sweetie, you can just tell me what to do.
  Koko: Purr#.

I close the hydraulic gate, leaving it open just enough to pass Koko her dinner tray underneath the gate. I unlock the door giving me access to her larger A room. I pass Koko her dinner. When she finishes eating, Koko passes the empty bowls and platter back under the gate to me. I do a quick end of the day cleaning of her room, leave her a few bottles of water, and a tray of yummy leafy greens that she can snack on overnight. I exit her A room and lock the door.

  Koko: Kiss#. Open hurry.
  Jill:: Okay, Okay.

I open the hydraulic gate giving Koko access to both rooms again. Koko comes into her larger A room and sits at the mesh near me again.

  Koko: Kiss#. Kiss#.
  Jill:: What sweetie?
  Koko: Sandwich there.
  Jill:: You're ready for your sandwich now? (sign/voice)
  Koko: Good. Purr#.

I give Koko her sandwich, which consists of soynut butter and sliced fruit on one slice of bread. I finish tidying up the kitchen area making sure that all electrical plugs are unplugged and that the intercom is on so the night monitor can hear the gorillas.

  Koko: Kiss#. Nut.

Koko knows she gets a cracked walnut last thing before I go as a bedtime treat.

  Jill:: Just a minute sweetie, I'm just finishing up.
  Koko: Hurry. Go.
  Jill:: Okay, okay. Pushy little thing aren't you?
  Koko: Laugh#.
  Jill:: Okay, I'm finished. (sign/voice)
  Koko: Purr#. Nut. Lights-off there. (Koko points to the light switch.)
  Jill:: Okay sweetie. I won't forget the lights. Sweet dreams. I love you.
  Koko: Blow-kiss#.

I give Koko her bedtime nut, turn off the lights and leave.

If only everyone had a helpful friend like Koko to help get their work done…what an even more wonderful world this would be.

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