One of my favorite blog posts is one that J.B. posted about the stages of Negra’s lips drooping. I think her heavy lips are one of her more endearing qualities, wouldn’t you agree?
Archives for July 2014
We are in the middle of our second heatwave of the season and the chimpanzees are spending much of their time in the cooler chimp house. (With the exception of Jamie who just returned from her third perimeter walk of the day and is currently on her fourth). I recently found Foxie and Dora lounging in the greenhouse, enjoying the breeze:
Usually the second that Foxie sees us she makes a beeline to us to pass us her troll or Dora doll and start a game of chase. But it’s just too hot for such shenanigans. So we sat for quite awhile just gazing at each other and giving the occasional head nod:
Those friendships in which you can just spend time with one other without saying or doing anything are pretty great. It is no small gift.
It’s another scorcher of a day here at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. The chimpanzees have been taking it in stride though by lounging during the heat of the day with various enrichment in hand (or mouth).
And Missy decided to stay out of camera view as she snuggled up in her blanket nest.
We often talk about Annie and Missy’s friendship, Foxie’s ability to get her friend Jamie to relax, and Burrito’s reliance on Foxie for reassurance when times are tense and their goofy play sessions when times are relaxed.
There are several close relationships among the chimpanzees. One that we haven’t talked about much is that between Burrito, the youngest chimpanzee, and Negra, the oldest.
Negra seems to give Burrito respect as the one male of the troop, perhaps more respect than some of the other ladies show him (ahem, Jamie).
Burrito and Negra often go to each when there’s something exciting going on, like setting up for a party, and they are frequent grooming partners too.
Today, as you can see from the photos below, they spent several minutes grooming one another after Negra was a bit concerned over a noise she heard.
Negra made a “pout face” as a reaction to the noise (which was a bird calling). This looks similar to when chimpanzees trumpet their lips to pant-hoot, but a pout face is used during times of concern, distress, or frustration:
Then Negra approached Burrito to be groomed, which can be a form of asking for reassurance:
Later, she reciprocated the grooming:
Living in a social group of others who understand their wants and needs is one of the most important aspects of sanctuary life for the chimpanzees, and we understand that they need to turn to one another, not to us humans, for their deepest and most important relationships.
Chimpanzees have a well-deserved reputation for being aggressive. They fight over food, over sex, and over territory. They fight for dominance and out of jealousy.
Sometimes I don’t think they even know why they are fighting – some fights among the seven end with all of them standing in a circle, screaming and looking around at each other as if to see if anyone else remembers what they are fighting about.
But as violent as chimps may be, fights are relatively infrequent. They are much more likely to be hugging,
and holding hands (and feet).
I used to think it was strange that animals capable of such extreme violence could be so tender and gentle. But I’m beginning to think it’s precisely because they are so violent that they are also so tender and gentle. A society with that level of aggression would not last long without an equally powerful force holding it together.