You’ve probably noticed in the photos we post that some members of the Cle Elum Seven are missing fingers, toes, and parts of their ears. Injuries like this are usually the result of fights with other chimps, and they are not uncommon in chimps who have spent years in captivity (or in the wild, for that matter).
Yesterday, there was an intense fight in our group. Everyone is going to be OK, but a few folks are pretty bruised and battered. It was hard to tell what started things off, but Burrito got the worst of it. While male chimpanzees are impressive, they are no match for six females acting together. Thankfully, everyone still has what was left of their ears, fingers, and toes.
What amazes me about chimpanzees is the way they reconcile after fights like this. As their friends, our instinct is to separate them to make sure no one gets hurt any further. But unless immediate medical intervention is necessary, its important for chimpanzees to be together after a conflict, whether that’s to make amends or to reinforce the new relationship that was established by the fight. Within minutes – after the alarm barking subsided – the entire group was together, grooming each others’ wounds.
Thankfully, chimpanzees also have an amazing ability to heal. The Cle Elum Seven are lucky to have three experienced and dedicated veterinarians looking out for them, so we are confident that everyone will be fully healed in no time. The humans, on the other hand, will be shaking for some time to come 🙂