Some people think that we should judge an animal’s quality of life by whether or not their basic needs are being met. Do they have food, water, heat, medical care, etc.? But if we applied these criteria to ourselves, prison wouldn’t be much of a deterrent – we’d all be knocking on the gate trying to get in. Obviously, we humans are willing to deal with some amount of risk and stress in life in exchange for things like freedom, autonomy, and self-determination. And I think that chimpanzees, if they were given the choice, would do the same.
Wild chimpanzees have jobs to do. They must take care of their young, travel great distances in search of food, and defend their territory from rival communities. Captivity gives chimps everything they need to survive, but robs them of purpose.
Well, not entirely. Every once and a while, we catch a glimpse of it here. When the chimps patrol Young’s Hill, they change – their faces, their postures, everything. It’s possible that I’m just projecting my own feelings here, but they seem so much more alive when they are at work like that.
Life may be nasty, brutish, and short for some wild chimpanzees, but I’d give anything for these chimps to have had a chance at it.
A very pertinent topic and one I just experienced today in a scientific conference but in relationship to dogs and their basic needs and purpose. But wild free roaming dogs present an entirely different picture than wild chimpanzees. Your wonderful photo that accompanies this relevant post is the ‘most wild’ I have ever seen the chimps look. And seeing them patrol the hill as a group in the video is even better! They look so small to me compared to the vast landscape of Young’s Hill. There was definitely something Wild about them on patrol, cruising through the tall grass together. Something very different.
Thank you for this post J.B., it was the perfect ending to my day and now I’ll go the bed and dream about Where The Wild Things Are.
Terry Prenner says
I come from a psych background…academics in the 70.s “MASLOW’S Hierarchy of Needs” Food/Shelter on bottom Independence, autonomy at the top of a pyramid of needs. Cant progress to autonomy while fearful in a lab cage. First Ive thought of this but yes…to fully BE your functioning species, I think his theories apply
Pat Malcolm says
This post thrills my heart, to see your band have this opportunity to be more fully themselves. Coming so closely after the post on gathering, they have made my week. what a blessing that they have this to look forward to for the rest of their days, and that this didn’t come before their brutal period of captivity. With all the sadness many of us feel about the situation of captive animals in this country and elsewhere, it is especially gratifying that we have examples such as your own to provide a bit of relief. Thank you!
Another great post J.B. Thank you.
Rita Stevenson says
To view Burrito patrolling and chasing away local elks or otherwise is BRILLIANT< there a time not long ago when Burrito feared his own shadow, and could not venture out, unless accompanied, and being constantly re assured by Foxie or Missy, Jody, and Negra ~ Negra seldom stepped outside past the door ,, however, the braver chimps led the way and showed the way, to the one s requiring encouragement and re assurance hugs from one another, Little by little THEY overcame this fears and doubts, I think the CE-7 has it figured out, they KNOW and they FEEL cared for and loved, I think they KNOW that, the staff will never permit ANY harm EVER being done unto them , and that they will always be fed, be given safety, security, and that their lives MATTER , they know they are VERY Important to the humans in their lives at CSNW Sanctuary ,, The dynamics amongst these these chimps is s very different than the chimps at other sanctuaries, The BOND amongst the 7 are so inter meshed and so firm that they will never waver, SIX years of permanence really has contributed to the wellness of the CE7.. I'm thrilled for them all,
How do the “7” like your new pup and vice versa? Have they become accustomed to him?
Wilson has met the chimps a couple of times from the other side of the fences. Jamie, Foxie, and Missy all came out to check him out, and Wilson pulled very hard at the leash to try to go see them. Wilson is about as different as you could get from our last dog, Honey B. Honey B lived at the sanctuary for 5 years and I don’t think she ever noticed that there were chimps 20 feet away from her in the enclosure 🙂 Because Wilson is so easily excitable, we avoid walking him over there when the chimps are on the hill.