This morning when I walked into the chimp area, everyone was super quiet (usually it’s a little noisy first thing in the morning) and I saw Negra sleeping in her favorite spot on the catwalk beside the window. The nest she was lying in was huge—way bigger than any nest I’ve seen before! It made me smile so much, just knowing how comfortable and content Negra looked. I took a short moment while everything was still and greeted Negra by reaching my arm out and nodding my head. She gave me a quick head nod in return and then shifted in her nest a little bit. A couple minutes later, the other chimps started to get up and it became the usual noisy morning, but Negra stayed in bed. This is typically how it goes—while everyone else is eagerly watching the humans prepare breakfast and get ready for the day, Negra sleeps in until we are about to serve. But today especially, her nest was so expansive and comfy looking, I thought she might stay in bed all day! But as soon as she saw the peanuts we were serving as a breakfast appetizer, she quickly jumped out of bed and headed to join the rest of the chimps in the greenhouse. The pictures we got of her nest were a little dark, and I did my best to brighten them up but I apologize for the poor lighting due to the sun in the window! The first picture shows just how big the nest was (24 big, fluffy blankets in all) and the second is a close-up of our Queen’s beautiful face.
Negra simply enjoying her big nest this morning started making me think about how awesome it is that she can do that now, after 30+ years in a lab. I thought about it all during cleaning, and as soon as I had a chance I went to our blog to find an entry from before the chimps ever arrived—one about Negra trying to make a nest with scraps of newspaper in the lab she was in before coming to CSNW. It was written almost exactly 5 months before the Cle Elum Seven arrived at their forever sanctuary home. It’s here if you want to read it, but be prepared to get teary-eyed. As Diana says in the post, “Negra deserves to be forever free from the fear of life as a laboratory subject. She deserves to have choices in her life. She deserves to have room to walk, run and climb. She deserves to have access to the outdoors. She deserves a daily supply of a wide variety of food. And she deserves lots and lots of blankets so she can finally make the bed that will truly make her feel content.”
I am so happy that her new sanctuary life has given her the opportunity to build a bed that Diana thought she might enjoy. It’s days like today that make me realize how amazing and resilient chimps are, after all they’ve been through that they can still find joy and contentment in life. It’s admirable.