When you take care of chimpanzees in a sanctuary, your whole life revolves around trying to make them happy. You live for those moments when they are food squeaking over a good meal, or playing a wild game of chase around the outdoor enclosure. For some members of the Cle Elum Seven, we’ve begun to take these moments for granted. When does Missy not want to play chase? And is there ever a moment when Foxie is not playing with her troll dolls?
But for some chimps, its harder to tell when they are happy. Negra has one speed (slow) and a limited number of activities that she engages in (eat, sleep, groom, gaze out the window). Perhaps its due in part to her personality; some folks just live life at a different pace. But you can’t help but wonder how much of it is due to 35 years of confinement in a laboratory.
Determining what effect a lifetime of stress in the laboratory has on chimpanzees is currently the work of two researchers, Debra Durham and Hope Ferdowsian. Debra and Hope are conducting a large-scale study of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in ex-laboratory chimpanzees. This summer, we participated in interviews with the researchers to look for indications of PTSD in the Cle Elum Seven.
Debra recently penned an Op-Ed for the Orlando Sentinel (see Drawing Ourselves into the Lives of Chimpanzees), in which she comments on the improvements they have seen in Negra. And, as fate would have it, the article’s publication coincided nicely with this video we took of Negra playing with Missy right before Jamie’s birthday party. (My favorite part of the video? When Negra grabs both or Missy’s ears and shakes her head back and forth 🙂
Its not likely that Negra will ever be rambunctious like Missy, or acrobatic like Foxie. Usually, I take comfort in the fact that when Negra chooses to put a blanket over her head and stare out the window, at least she has a choice. But she does have her playful moments, and according to Debra and Hope’s research, she is still showing signs of improvement. So we can all look forward to seeing Negra pull Missy’s legs and ears more and more in the days to come.
“because of a clerical error, she was kept in solitary confinement for two years” – arrghh…I’m so not a violent person but this makes me want to clock those responsible for this torture, um, I mean “error”
yeah, looking forward to seeing Negra pull Missy’s ears & legs more!
Go Negra! who can resist Missy’s playfulness!?! Go Missy!
a big BRAVO to both the human and ape cousins for helping each other move forward and put the past (for these 7) right there … in the past.
It’s so hearwarming to see Negra play!
Linda (Portland, OR) says
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a chimp’s “Happy Face” is worth a million more!!
What a treat after a really rough day at work. Watching Negra playing brought tears to my eyes! Go Negra, my girl…have fun!
Margaret and Karen says
What a wonderful video! This will keep a smile on our faces for a long long time. How wonderful to think Negra is starting to move beyond her horrible past and to begin to believe that the future and present is much much better. So glad she has a player like Missy to help in the process.
This is such a heartwarming video! I love seeing Negra so happy & playing! See what a lot of loving care & a healthy lifestyle can do ~ it makes happy, healthy chimps! (as healthy as possible, at least). You have done an incredible job of healing their spirits and their bodies. I’m sure Negra and all of the others would thank you all for spending every day doing all that you can to bring them happiness!
Candy (Tyler, TX) says
1) I loved when Negra was pulling Missy by the legs and scootin’ her back and forth on the floor, like a vacuum cleaner.
2) Grabbing of the ears, too funny.
3) Amazing beings that they recognize their friend moves at a slower pace and change their playing habits to match hers.
4) Seeing this video reminded me of the 07-03-2008 video of Annie, Missy & Negra playing together and getting to see Negra’s play face for the first time.
Just heart warming……….
Jeani Goodrich says
What a wonderful time they had. Not only seeing them both play but watching Negra chase Missy. Thank you for the smile you put on my face as well as theirs.
Beautiful. I’m really rooting for Negra. I look forward to seeing her continued improvement.
The video is great. They are so happy and lucky to have all of you. Good job. Lesley and the other NW chimps