Chimpanzees naturally are very territorial. This is something universal for both wild and captive chimpanzees. When we see territorial displays in the Cle Elum Seven, it’s really wonderful because it means that they are not only exhibiting what we call species-typical behavior, but it also means that they see this is their home and it is worth protecting.
In the wild, individuals within a group will split off from the main group and go on a patrol to check the boundaries of their territory. They move silently through the forest to make sure there are no intruders. In most cases, these patrols are exclusively males. Watch this video from the Jane Goodall Institute to learn about male patrols:
Burrito is the only male at CSNW, so we don’t see a lot of the typical social organization of chimpanzees groups that we learn about in school. In captivity, the same rules don’t apply, especially when the group is comprised of an unusually large percentage of females compared to males. It’s one reason why in the wild, males are always the dominant figures within a group, but in captivity many times females are dominant (which is the case at CSNW with our boss lady, Jamie). So even though we see natural territorial behaviors from all of the Cle Elum Seven, we don’t really see patrols.
Today however, we saw a troop of chimps band together and defend their territory against the neighbor elk, who decided to pay us another visit today.
You’ll never believe who was leading the gang.
OK, maybe you will. It was Burrito. In the wild this would seem obvious—dominant male chimps would definitely be front and center in a patrol. But Burrito is not a typical male chimp. He never had older males to learn from and was never in a typical social group. After being in the lab for over 20 years, it’s really not surprising that he never developed the same way wild male chimps do. So this is why it was especially exciting to not only see the chimps on a patrol this morning, but for Burrito to be in the lead. The chimps continue to surprise us as they develop into their sanctuary life.
First, Jody started to follow Burrito (with a cattail in tow of course!)
Jamie joined in, followed by Annie, and eventually Foxie as well: