One of the most common, if not impossible, questions I get about the chimpanzees is, “Who is your favorite?” Impossible! They each are, for their individual uniqueness. To me it’s a privilege just to be in their presence let alone be able to call them my friends. We all have different relationships with each of the chimpanzees, built in their own time and way. Some of the chimpanzees choose to engage with their human caregivers frequently, whereas some of them prefer the company of their chimpanzee friends. And just as with human friends, you find that for whatever reasons you seem to just “click” or bond with certain individuals in a certain way. You’re especially happy to see each other when you’ve been apart, you enjoy just spending time in each others company, you learn from each other, respect each other for who you are, and you laugh together often. Maybe one of you even does pirouettes and back flips when you see each other! For reasons you cannot often articulate, you consider them one of your dearest friends. And so it is for me with Foxie. Sometimes I feel my heart will burst with all the love I have for this chimpanzee woman.
While we all hope that we are making each of the chimpanzees lives better given their life circumstances, we certainly wish they had been able to live the lives they were meant to. When acknowledging that their lives would have been better off not knowing humans at all, it can sometimes be difficult to also acknowledge that this includes me. And while I wish Foxie’s life could have been different, I am so honored to call her my friend.