Kicking back has never looked so cool.
We often talk about Annie and Missy’s friendship, Foxie’s ability to get her friend Jamie to relax, and Burrito’s reliance on Foxie for reassurance when times are tense and their goofy play sessions when times are relaxed.
There are several close relationships among the chimpanzees. One that we haven’t talked about much is that between Burrito, the youngest chimpanzee, and Negra, the oldest.
Negra seems to give Burrito respect as the one male of the troop, perhaps more respect than some of the other ladies show him (ahem, Jamie).
Burrito and Negra often go to each when there’s something exciting going on, like setting up for a party, and they are frequent grooming partners too.
Today, as you can see from the photos below, they spent several minutes grooming one another after Negra was a bit concerned over a noise she heard.
Negra made a “pout face” as a reaction to the noise (which was a bird calling). This looks similar to when chimpanzees trumpet their lips to pant-hoot, but a pout face is used during times of concern, distress, or frustration:
Then Negra approached Burrito to be groomed, which can be a form of asking for reassurance:
Later, she reciprocated the grooming:
Living in a social group of others who understand their wants and needs is one of the most important aspects of sanctuary life for the chimpanzees, and we understand that they need to turn to one another, not to us humans, for their deepest and most important relationships.
Chimpanzees have a well-deserved reputation for being aggressive. They fight over food, over sex, and over territory. They fight for dominance and out of jealousy.
Sometimes I don’t think they even know why they are fighting – some fights among the seven end with all of them standing in a circle, screaming and looking around at each other as if to see if anyone else remembers what they are fighting about.
But as violent as chimps may be, fights are relatively infrequent. They are much more likely to be hugging,
and holding hands (and feet).
I used to think it was strange that animals capable of such extreme violence could be so tender and gentle. But I’m beginning to think it’s precisely because they are so violent that they are also so tender and gentle. A society with that level of aggression would not last long without an equally powerful force holding it together.
Yesterday, Jamie received a package in the mail with new cowgirl boots from our long time supporters and friends, Don and Karen Young (for whom Young’s Hill was named thanks to their generous contribution to making it possible). When we arrived at the sanctuary this morning, Jamie was watching us from the greenhouse and as soon as we got out of our cars she immediately gestured that she was ready for a walk with her new boots. I think that’s something we can all relate to.
A wonderful article, featuring the chimpanzees, was posted today on One Green Planet speaking to the many ways in which chimpanzees and humans are alike. And today at the sanctuary was another simple example of that. We are getting some much needed rain to the area and the chimpanzees and humans alike are kicking up their heels a bit more with the cooler temperatures. And although Jamie was ready and waiting for an early morning walk, due to intermittent thunder showers, we had to wait for the voltage on the electric fencing surrounding the chimpanzees’ outdoor area to come up before we could give the chimps access to the hill. So just as we humans do when we are waiting for stormy weather to pass, Jamie reluctantly made a nest, holding fast to her new boots, and waited it out.
Finally, after lunch the voltage on the fence was high enough to give them access to Young’s Hill. Jamie immediately had J.B. put on some boots and they set off for a perimeter walk. While Jamie and J.B. were busy walking, everyone else (well, except Negra who chose to take an after lunch nap) raced out onto the hill to enjoy the brief break in weather.
Missy, being Missy, made several laps up and down, and back and forth, only stopping to occasionally check out the view:
But it wouldn’t be long before she was off to race across the hill, or chase her friend, Annie, again:
Jody, marched out onto the hill with purpose, clearly on a mission. A mission to forage for a rather large piece of bamboo to bring back to enjoy in the comfort of her nest before the rain began again:
Even Foxie felt adventurous and explored the platforms on her own. Well, not exactly on her own as she had Dora with her, of course.
While these moments captured seemingly simple joys for the chimpanzees that we as humans can relate to, there is no denying the countless ways in which chimpanzees experience the world and their lives just as we do. For me, I just consider us to be different cultures who still have distinctly similar thoughts, emotions, and desires. Who still want the same things in life. Just like all beings we share this planet with.
A story appeared recently in the Daily Mail and Good Morning America showing images and video of two young chimpanzees, Vali and Sugriva, going to the theater with their “handlers” and watching the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The irony is that the two young chimpanzees were exploited for this publicity stunt, and brought into a theater to watch a movie that purposefully avoided using live ape actors… (Read more on Care2)
For more on the training facility Vali and Sugriva live at, visit our trainer page on Eyes on Apes.
Thank you to Care2 for posting our op-ed on this issue! Please share the article with your friends and get the word out that chimpanzees do not belong on either side of the theater screen.
As a caregiver at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest one of our priorities is trying to come up with entertainment, enrichment, and various engaging activities for the chimpanzees’ daily lives. We are keen to provide them with as much choice and autonomy in captivity as we can.
For all our effort towards this end, it is always a gift to be reminded that as much as the chimpanzees might appreciate it, they also do not rely solely on it for their happiness and well-being. The chimpanzees are as adept at enriching them-selves (and each other) as we are at enrichment and I wouldn’t have it any other way! It is a privilege to care for these seven chimpanzees but I believe they know far better than I what would be the best way for them to spend their time. Here is just a taste of how they choose to live today.
Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Patrick and Carrie Hardie in honor of Ren’s 19th birthday! Patrick and Carrie sent the following lovely message:
“We are long time supporters of CSNW and couldn’t think of a better way to honor our nephew’s 19th birthday than supporting our favorite seven primates.”
Patrick and Carrie, we are all touched that you would include the chimpanzees in your wish to celebrate Ren’s special day. Thank you so much for thinking of them! Ren, from all of the primates here at CSNW, Happy Birthday!! We hope you’re having a great day!
**Last week I experienced some technical difficulties trying to post my blog. If you are on Facebook you will already have had the opportunity to watch the video but for those of you who aren’t, here is last week’s blog post, finally!! Please enjoy and check back later for today’s real blog post.**
Chimpanzees are highly social creatures. They rely on a social hierarchy and daily networking as part of the glue that keeps their society functioning. But, just like humans, the chimpanzees benefit from some quality time alone as well. With the temperature in the playroom providing a slight relief from a recent humid heat wave, the chimpanzees took advantage of the opportunity for time to cool off and recharge their social batteries.
Negra doesn’t spend as much time outside on Young’s Hill as the other chimpanzees. She seems to feel safer and more comfortable inside. And when she does go out, she doesn’t venture far. So we’re always excited to see Negra explore new territory on the hill.
This morning we set up a breakfast forage outside, and included some lettuce (Negra’s favorite). Negra couldn’t resist, and she joined the rest of the group as they went out to forage for breakfast. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, she spotted some lettuce on top of a climbing structure. Negra’s not much of a climber, and most of the climbing structures on Young’s Hill have remained unexplored by her. This morning’s lettuce, though, was incentive enough to brave the unknown.