Today was our last day serving with Save the Chimps. We went into the day with high spirits, ready to give our final day our all. We started the day in two groups. The first group stayed back at the maintenance building with Whitney. We made tire swings from donated tires, rolls of seatbelt straps and rubber hosing. Whitney also had us power wash some woven fire-hose segments and remove and replace the rusting hardware. Working with Whitney was always a great time. Whitney has incredible work ethic, but knows how to add a bit (or a lot) of humor to her work.
The second group went to the kitchens and prepped more raisin boards, tennis balls, “surprise” boxes (treats are hidden in paper shavings), and birthday presents. The birthday presents were handed out later in the afternoon to all of the chimps born in December through January. The treats and presents were gift wrapped and bagged by yours truly- and they were super cute.
We broke for lunch around our usual time, but when we arrived back at the break room we had a lovely surprise from Monica, our volunteer coordinator, and the rest of the STC staff: a pizza party! We were also given gift bags with STC calendars featuring our favorite chimps, and artwork painted by September, a chimp resident of the sanctuary. On the wall of the break room was a thank you banner made just for us. This moment was quite emotional for us, as we realized that our time with our site was truly coming to an end. The group lunch allowed us one last time to socialize with the crew and reflect on our time spent there this week.
After lunch, some of us went to Al’s Red Barn and Grill to pick up a large donation of fresh oranges, while some went out on the boat with Jeff. Jeff had us installing more screws into the fencing to stabilize the wooden extensions of the enclosures. Jeff is another incredible employee of the sanctuary, and a genuine joy to work with. While making our rounds on the boat we saw a 9 foot gator soaking up the sun on the bank of the moats, which was super cool at first but gave us the heebie-jeebies when we watched it slide back under the surface.
Our last event of the day was watching a feeding on Lou’s island. The chimps took their turns patiently collecting their dinners, and we got to see some tennis balls and birthday presents that we had prepared be distributed as well (which was very rewarding). S/O to Greg for letting us shadow his feeding shift.
Our day unfortunately ended with some tough goodbyes. We had an incredible experience throughout our week of service, and are so honored to have been welcomed into Save the Chimps. We can’t begin to thank the staff and volunteers at STC enough for opening up their doors (and gate) to us and letting us be a part of what they do every day for these chimps. The work was often physically demanding and tedious, but the wellness and excitement brought to the chimps made it all worth it. We have so much respect for all the work the STC staff and volunteers put in each day to keep this facility so well maintained, and to keep the chimps happy, healthy and entertained. Our on-site service may end today, but our relationship with this site has hopefully just begun.
- The First Fort Pierce