Foxie’s in charge now!

May 29th, 2015 by Katelyn

The chimpanzees were ready and waiting for the door to Young’s Hill to be opened this morning after breakfast. With chow bags in hand, they all filed out of the raceway and headed straight for their new climbing structure. And Foxie was leading the way, with purpose and intent in every step! Everyone else just fell in behind her, even boss lady, Jamie.

Foxie, followed by Annie, Burrito, Missy:


Jamie catches up (crossing over the log):



Look at these chimps! Jody joins the troop in the lower right corner:


And today, Negra brought up the rear! She remained a rebel and chose not the follow the others initially, instead sticking closer to the greenhouse to forage in the grass:


Foxie was the first to climb the tower as well, and all except Negra joined her under the roof as they ate their chow together. I can’t express how amazing it was seeing them all sitting together in perfect calm and peace, taking in their new view. Unfortunately, by the time I reached them with the camera, all had started heading back down the hill except Jamie:


Once again, even the boss was following Foxie:


But who do you think I spotted walking out from under the new structure? Oh, just Negra! Today she decided to see what all the fuss was about I guess and although she didn’t climb the structure, the fact that she walked all the way to the top of the hill to see it was incredible. As she calmly ambled back down the hill she was beside herself at finding a huge patch of wild mustard to eat:



I could barely see her, but she finally peeked out at me:


The chimps have spent the entire day traipsing all the way up to the new structure, hanging out on the towers, and then coming back down and cooling off with a nap in the cooler play room. I think they may be adjusting to the additional exercise! Once rested they would all head back up again. And so it was all day. Play, repeat, play, repeat.

At the end of the day we had a gorgeous thunderstorm roll through. I went out to check on the chimpanzees as they typically head for the chimp house at the first sound of thunder. Almost everyone was back in the greenhouse, even Jamie, but when I looked up at the towers I spotted Foxie, Annie and Missy, showing no fear or nervousness, seemingly watching the storm in awe. I couldn’t believe it!

Annie and Missy chose the covered tower to observe from:


And Foxie? Out in the open, all on her own, braving a thunder clap as she peeked over the edge of the railing. I adore this photo:



My heart has been full to bursting all day at the sight of the chimpanzees embracing their new options with such courage, determination, security and joy. I keep thinking about the contrast their view of the world held seven years ago, living in a windowless basement in cages no bigger than a bathroom stall. Imagine the awe and wonder they must feel now.


7 Responses to “Foxie’s in charge now!”

  1. nancy says:

    Hard not to smile all the way through this story and the photos!!

  2. Jackie says:

    Love the pictures! It’s so great to see the chimps having such fun!

  3. Denice says:

    Very nice post KD.

    I do think this is a testament of trust. In the past new things were a challenge to face, they all faced those fears or apprehensions with time. A little farther each day. Yesterday there was none of those fears, there was no apprehension,they trusted that this was a good thing, they knew it was safe for them to explore without fear. Not only do they trust the humans that provide these things but they now have the confidence to face new things in their environment.

    These last seven years has been about personal growth for all primates associated with this organization.

  4. Kathleen says:

    Okay Katelyn, you got me! I’ll admit to being all teary eyed while reading this post. So many joyous moments. Foxie leading the way today was enough for me but then her little peeky over the railing during a thunderclap no less, and I don’t believe I see a troll in sight?! And Negra!?! Oh yes I teared up reading about your sighting of Negra under the new structure. She looks so lovely in the deep green grasses too. The experience of the new structure must be like discovering the earth wasn’t flat. Or like you said, their world isn’t a 5′ x 5′ x 7′ box after all — their world is grande.

    (and well said Denice!)

  5. Diane D. says:

    Wonderful Pictures. They behaved like Chimps in the wild. It’s going to get even better.

  6. Barbara says:

    Great pictures. It makes me happy to see them enjoying their new climbing structure. Beautiful.

  7. Karen and Don says:

    What a wonderful blog. I am speechless. The courage that the chimps showed towards their new structure is the same courage they showed when the gates first opened to Young’s Hill. They lined up like school kids and headed out onto the hill. Whenever I need a dose of courage, I think of these chimps! They are awesome because of the care and opportunities for growth they get from awesome people . Thanks to you all for your dedication and hard work!