You might notice by now that I often share blog posts about the things I have learned from my chimpanzee friends. It is my personal belief that a good caregiver is someone who, among other things, pays enough attention to the needs, wants, and moods of the individuals in their care to be able to provide the stability and flexibility that, I think, are so important to healthy and lasting relationships. It’s one of the things I value so much about the care-giving philosophy of CSNW as it allows the chimpanzees the opportunity to thrive and flourish even as living in sanctuary changes who they are and how they interact with the world. As an added benefit to this, I end up learning valuable lessons almost daily that I can (and try) to apply to the rest of my life. Today is no exception. Today I experienced the joy of allowing your companions to surprise you with their behavior rather than merely seeing what you have always expected to see. It’s awesome, and, for me, always a treat to be able to leave expectations behind. I love when the chimpanzee friends I have come to know surprise me with an unexpected request or an interaction like those I have included below and am grateful beyond measure for every chance I have to experience this.
I entered the chimp house in good spirits this morning to find Jamie in a similar state. Rather than the not unusual morning crankiness Jamie and I enjoyed a rowdy game of cowboy boot chase throughout the greenhouse, front rooms, and the playroom as a morning greeting. After chase, Jody approached me in the front rooms. She sat and looked directly up at the lights (which I had forgotten to turn on, being otherwise engaged in chase) and then looked directly at me. I looked up to see that the lights were dark and laughed saying, “I’m sorry, Jody, did you want me to turn those on for you?” When I returned from that task I found Jody sitting up on a bench delightedly inspecting the lights. Later, as I gave the chimpanzees access to Young’s Hill, I thought about how dismal the day seemed, threatening rain, windy and chilly and, to my mind, more than appropriate for the first day of autumn. To my surprise, all seven of the chimpanzees headed straight out on Young’s Hill taking advantage of the cool weather to enjoy a morning stroll!
Unfortunately, I was unable to capture these moments on film this morning but I’ve found a few pictures that I think best illustrate the feel of the morning to share with you.