Mysteries of the heart

February 5th, 2018 by Katelyn

Foxie’s love of her dolls is an endless source of heart-melting joy, fascination and mystery to us. If you’ve been following the chimpanzees for awhile you are probably aware that Foxie’s love of her dolls (that we’re aware of) began shortly after the chimps’ arrival to the sanctuary in 2008 with her subsequent discovery of “Trixie” the troll doll. For several years, Foxie lived and breathed troll dolls and showed little to no interest in other dolls or forms of enrichment.

Then Dora the Explorer appeared on the scene and for reasons known only to Foxie, she was utterly smitten. Dora quickly raised through the ranks to join the status of the trolls. While we’ll never know what mysterious criteria Dora met, we were happy to see Foxie branching out with her interests. She became particularly enamored with France Dora. She definitely has a certain “je ne sais quoi” and to this day I think she remains Foxie’s most treasured of all the Dora dolls.

Fast forward a few years and Foxie branched out even further to include Dora’s friends:

It’s hard to resist wanting to interpret Foxie’s behavior with her dolls and in our curiosity to make guesses as to Foxie’s doll criteria, we thought maybe it was the combination of big hair and big eyes. Most recently she’s incorporated the new Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Big hair: check! Big eyes: check!

And then…Foxie threw us a curve ball by falling in love with the new old-style Strawberry Shortcakes. Big hair: meh, not so much. Big eyes: no, beady!

When Foxie adds another doll to her collection that doesn’t mean her trolls and Dora dolls lose their status. Her comfort level just seems to expand allowing her natural curious nature to investigate new things. And it seems her heart feels increasingly safer to let new experiences in. And we certainly know that our fellow animals experience the same emotions we humans do. That said, it’s tempting to read too much into Foxie’s behavior and it’s emotionally appealing and comforting for us to think her love for her dolls is all about a chance to be the mother she was never allowed to be to her four children she gave birth to in the labs who were stolen from her. After such incomprehensible trauma, it’s clear the dolls bring Foxie enormous comfort and joy and I think it’s safe to say she does engage in mothering behavior with them, but at the same time she often beats them up. And I mean beats.them.up!

And so as curious as we are and as well as we know Foxie, justΒ as with any other person, we can never know for sure what she is thinking. Nor would we be so species-centric if you will, to assume. And the thing is, it doesn’t matter. Foxie is Foxie and her happiness doesn’t need definition. Nor does our love for her. Her happiness and well-being, that’s the only thing that’s our business.

It’s been a few weeks since Foxie has received a new Dora and when we surprised her with one a supporter had sent, it was evident that Dora’s still got it. Whatever “it” may be.

22 Responses to “Mysteries of the heart”

  1. Lorraine Gordon says:

    That’s adorable. …it’s good to see her enjoying life

  2. Paula says:

    Thank you for the many images of Foxie playing with her dolls. Has she shown interest in larger size dolls?

    • Katelyn says:

      Hi Paula, Foxie prefers the smaller dolls usually. I think the smaller ones are better suited to the play she engages in with them. Her favorite game with caregivers is to pass the dolls back and forth through the caging while we chase her. They also fit more easily on her back for walking around the hill or in her pelvic (hip) pocket when resting. πŸ™‚

      • Pam Linton says:

        I am curious, have they ever been around their babies since their days in the labs? If they have been near them, have they recognized them as their baby? I know they can recognize other chimps by smelling their butts, behinds?? Ive seen it on tv or videos on YouTube. I was just curious. It would be a wondrous time, thats if they knew the scent of their babies.
        Thanks for all your hard work and keeping the updates coming. I am so delighted.
        Pam β™₯️🐡

        • Katelyn says:

          Hi Pam, thanks for your questions! The chimps residing here have not seen their children that we know of, though it might be possible they crossed paths in the labs at some point. It’s difficult to say if there would be any recognition, but probably unlikely as mothers were typically anesthetized immediately following birth or shortly after and their infants taken. A few other sanctuaries have been fortunate to reunite family members, but I cannot speak to their experiences. And yes, it is a common chimp behavior seeing faces to bums, but chimps recognize one another upon sight just as humans do. Without seeing a specific video, what’s actually occuring in those instances could be a few things. It’s a common way that chimps greet one another or seek/offer reassurance, especially a less dominant chimp to a higher ranking chimp. Also, when females are in estrus their anogenital area swells which indicates prime fertility to male chimps (and which males find very attractive and are often checking out). And they could also simply be engaging in grooming one another. πŸ™‚

  3. Pat Lukes says:

    I’m getting ready to send another box of trolls to Foxie, but wanted to tell you all at the Sanctuary, that a really good place to find trolls and other dolls is Value Village.

    I just love this unusual story of Foxie and her dolls. It’s just more proof that, they are us and we are them.

    • Katelyn says:

      Thanks, Pat! Foxie will be thrilled. We’re not near many stores, but thanks for the info should we find ourselves near Value Village when we venture to the city! πŸ™‚

      • Francoise Vulpe says:

        Thanks Pat. That’s great to know. I go to Value Village once in a while and it never occurred to me. Probably because I don’t have children.

  4. Gabi Ford says:

    Foxie!! Those pictures of Foxie loving on her dolls are so touching. Is Foxie a mama?

    • Katelyn says:

      Hi Gabi, Foxie is a mama. She has two daughters (one of whom resides at Save the Chimps in FL). She also had a rare set of twin boys who have sadly passed away. Annie, Missy, Negra, and Jody are also mothers who all had their children taken from them at, or shortly after, birth. This was common practice for chimpanzees in labs as they were bred specifically to supply more chimpanzees for biomedical research. You can read more about Foxie’s history here:

  5. Donna Oleksiuk says:

    What an amazing series of photos and such a sensitive, compassionate story about Foxie’s love for her dolls. Thank you for showing Foxie and all the chimps so much respect for their uniqueness and for providing a nurturing environment where they can express that uniqueness. πŸ™‚ <3 <3

  6. Jackie says:

    Beautiful and touching!

  7. Jo Lathrop says:

    Hugs and love to you all….Thank you so much for fabo post and pix!!

  8. Kathleen says:

    Thanks for this sincere explanation of Foxie and her friends. Selfishly it brings me great joy to see Foxie enjoying (and spinning on top of) her dolls. If it makes Foxie happy, it makes me happy! And all of these big beautiful Foxie and Dora photos make me unbelievable happy! Thank you Katelyn!!!

    • Katelyn says:

      Hi Kathleen, It’s one of the greatest joys, seeing hers, and the joy of each of the chimps. Same for your pups I’m sure. <3

  9. karen/Don says:

    It was a severely traumatized Foxie who attracted us to the brand new sanctuary. Until she found troll dolls, she was not interested in other forms enrichment if I recall correctly. When we visited the sanctuary close to the first year annoversary, I foolishly brought stuffed chimps for the 7. Well, Foxie had her troll doll and beckened me with her fingers under the door to the nighthouse to give her a stuffed chimp. Sarah Baechler threw it over the wire and Foxie proceeded to kill it! After she had torn it from limb to limb, she stromped on it to make sure it was dead, put the troll doll on her back and walked away! Jane Goodall said that there are good chimp mothers and bad chimp mothers. In the wild, I think we can count on Foxie being the best mother in her community. She is fixated on dolls like Jamie is fixated on boots. Could it be replacements for the trauma of having babies taken from them? Only they know. If only they could talk!

  10. Arlene and Michael says:

    Those pictures of Foxie and her doll are so touching. Thank you to all of you for letting all of these Chimps lives their lives in such a compassionate environment, allowing them to be themselves.

  11. Barbara Bucy says:

    Most beautiful photos of Foxie I have ever seen. She is a very special soul and it warms my heart to see her happy.

  12. Kim F. (Tiki Kim) says:

    Beautiful photos and words about Foxies Doll love! Each and every one of their uniqueness is priceless. They are so sensitive, and smart. … Has Foxie ever been given Chimp or other Primate Dolls? Male Dolls? I guess there aren’t too many of the later just curious since all if these mentioned are human females. … Thank you all at CSNW as always for all you do. I haven’t been able to keep up daily, so miss alot, I hope to back to, but every post you do is beyond wonderful. The care and attention given to these babies is exceptional. Bless you all and the Seven.

    • Katelyn says:

      Thank you, Kim, and good questions! Foxie hates stuffed chimps/primates the chimps have been given and they typically meet an immediate and terrible end in her hands. She has received a couple male dolls, but doesn’t seem to show too much interest so far. It will be interesting to see what she chooses next. πŸ™‚

  13. Kim F. (Tiki Kim) says:

    Thanks for the reply Katelyn. Do you think the reaction to the Chimp dolls is related to past trauma from her babies being taken? Seems like it might be. Poor Lady. Have the others reacted similar when they’ve seen the Chimp dolls?

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