Caregiver Corner: ‘Gorilla Cleaning Crew’ by K. Kamrani

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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#.