This morning Foxie demonstrated how to have fun with a bandana in 11 easy steps:
Yesterday was Negra’s son Noah’s birthday, and Save the Chimps posted a photo of the birthday boy which I shared today on our Facebook page. We’ve shared stories of Noah before (as well as Negra’s daughters Angel (also at Save the Chimps) and Heidi (she’s sadly still in a lab).
A question we almost always get is whether the chimps would recognize their kids should they ever have the chance to. For the kids that are no longer in labs (Negra’s kids Noah and Angel at Save the Chimps, Foxie’s daughter Angie at Save the Chimps, Jody’s kids Andrea, Bart, and Clay at Save the Chimps, Annie’s kids Mariah and Virgil at Save the Chimps and son Tobias at Chimp Haven, and Missy’s kids Josh and Honey B at Wildlife Waystation) that will likely never happen. It’s also not too likely that their kids who are still in labs would ever be reunited with them (Foxie’s kids Kelsey and David, Negra’s daughter Heidi, and Jody’s son Levi) because they are fully grown adults and it would be difficult to integrate them into our existing group.
But if at another sanctuary a mother were reunited with her children, would they recognize each other? My response to this question is usually simply: probably not. As is the case with most lab births, their babies were taken away from them within days (sometimes just hours) so the likelihood that they would recognize their fully grown children is pretty slim. I think of human births where the babies are given for adoption — would they recognize their biological child 20 years later? Probably not… but maybe. There have been stories of chimps being reunited with their mothers after being separated from each other very early on, who showed signs of recognizing each other. So, I guess the answer should be: probably not, but it is possible.
Here’s some recent photos of our chimp mothers:
We are grateful to the sanctuaries who are caring for the Cle Elum Seven’s children, and hope that one day soon Levi, Kelsey, David, Heidi, and the hundreds of other chimps still in labs will find a sanctuary to call home.
The chimps spent most of the morning inside due to the rain. When it finally let up, Missy ran straight for the far corner of the hill. Something was up.
Jody followed after her but seemed nervous about getting too close.
They both looked around for reassurance.
Annie was perched safely on the bridge, and showed no interest in putting herself in danger.
And Neither Foxie nor Burrito showed any willingness to come down from their platform to join the patrol.
Finally, Missy spotted Jamie at the bottom of the hill and asked for her help with an outstretched arm.
Jody’s hair was standing on end (also called “pilo erection”), showing her nervousness. She approached Missy for reassurance.
Neither seemed to have the courage to get any closer.
At one point, Missy got spooked and decided to bolt, leaving Jody all by herself.
Lucky for her, help was on the way.
With Jamie on the case, Missy decided to rejoin the group.
They headed toward the top corner of Young’s Hill.
As it turns out, the subject of their apprehension was a hawk that had been roosting on one of the fence posts. The chimps promptly scared it away.
Jamie is so cool in moments like these. While Missy ran around frantically and Jody looked on helplessly, Jamie calmly strutted her way up the hill, totally confident in her ability to protect her home from invaders. I guess there’s a reason why she’s the boss.
The first rains of autumn have finally arrived at the sanctuary and the chimpanzees are less than thrilled. Everyone is spending the rainy day in their own way. Annie and Missy are doing a lot of lounging and napping. Negra is bundled away in her nest with the blanket over her head, fast asleep. Jody is enjoying lounging by the window with occasional grooming sessions with her chimp friends. Foxie and I (and Dora the Explorer) just had a raucous game of chase through the chimp house which ended in her hanging upside down and both of us laughing hysterically. Even Jamie took a long nap today but that doesn’t mean she isn’t still making her rounds of Young’s Hill in between heavier showers.
And then there’s Burrito. He has spent most of the day gazing out all of the windows, seemingly waiting for the sun to reappear. First he checked outside the greenhouse:
Then he distracted himself with a brief game of chase:
But had to stop to see if it was still raining:
Then we went inside to see if it was raining out the chimp house windows:
My all time favorite chimpanzee facial expression is the “relaxed face with drooped lip.”
Jody is famous for her drooped lip face. In fact, I discovered today that if you do a google image search for “drooped lip chimpanzee,” the first three images that come up are of Jody!
But there’s another set of perhaps not as famous lips among the Cle Elum Seven – those of Negra. Rather than classic drooped lip, we like to describe Negra’s lips as “heavy.”
Below are some examples of each. What do you think is more charming – Jody’s drooped lip or Negra’s heavy lip?
Jamie has been making the staff earn their keep this summer and fall. After the other chimpanzees have made their nests and settled down for the night, and just when it’s normally time for the caregivers to go home, Jamie decides she would like some more time outside. She takes walk after walk after walk around Young’s Hill, always requesting the company of a human friend. While her morning and afternoon perimeter walks are often all business, these evening walks are more leisurely. Jamie meanders and explores and stops to take in the view.
Despite the extra long days, we’re all happy to oblige. It’s nice to see Jamie making up for lost time.
We’ve talked about the importance of grooming among chimpanzees before, and it’s pretty well known what an essential aspect of life grooming is for most primates. Below is a video of very good friends Burrito and Foxie grooming, with Missy (off-camera), occasionally also grooming Burrito.
There’s a lot of cool things about grooming. In a comment on a post back in 2009, I mentioned some of the following:
The basics: aside from the social aspects, grooming is the removal of dirt and debris and the tending to wounds (licking and picking scabs). It’s why chimpanzees don’t need baths – they do a really good job of cleaning themselves and each other – no water necessary.
The debris found on the grooming partner is not necessarily consumed, even though the lips are usually involved in grooming because chimpanzees use their prehensile lips, almost like another set of fingers, for many activities like inspecting objects, turning the pages of a magazine (in captivity), and especially in grooming.
Increased grooming often occurs after a conflict to reassure and/or “make up” with one another and to cement social bonds. Grooming has a calming affect, which is easy to see when you observe chimpanzees grooming one another. A study of wild chimpanzees that used non-invasive methods to collect urine samples after grooming bouts found that oxytocin (sometimes referred to as “the love hormone”) levels were higher in bonded grooming partners than in samples collected of chimpanzees who had not been grooming or had been grooming with a “non-bond partner.”
Regarding lip movements during grooming: it is common for chimpanzees, as well as other primates, to “lip smack” or “teeth clack” or make other “sympathetic mouth movements” when grooming (also when performing other fine motor behaviors – like many of us who move our tongue a certain way when we’re really concentrating on a task).
Each chimpanzee does his/her own thing, Burrito is a lip smacker (he may teeth clack on occasion too), Foxie is a teeth clacker, and Annie makes raspberry sounds with her lips. The intensity of the mouth movement/noise will increase if something (especially a wound or scab) is found during grooming.
Some scientists have hypothesized that these sympathetic mouth movements were an evolutionary step towards spoken language. Our friend Gabriel Waters and [former] Central WA University professor Dr. Fouts published a study on this theory a few years back: http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=1349990, and there was a book with this premise called Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language, which I admittedly still need to read, that argued that gossip for humans is what grooming is for chimpanzees and other non-human primates.
So, with all that information, here’s the video of Burrito and Foxie strengthening their friendship through grooming today:
Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Craig Young for his wife, Kim! Craig shared this beautiful message for Kim:
“Happy “First Date” Anniversary to my darling wife, Kim – the brains, beauty, brawn and awesome of kimpluscraig. Sometimes Kim doesn’t get the recognition she deserves for the inspiration she is, but every place we’ve traveled, every cause we’ve embraced, everything that is important to the both of us comes from a heart filled with warmth and love, and I for one know I’d be lost without her. Lucky stars in your eyes, sweetie.”
Craig and Kim, thank you so much for all that you do to make the chimpanzees’ days and lives better! It means so much to us that you would choose to share your special day with them.
Jamie snuggling with one of the loves of her life: