Freedom is a tough concept. You recognize it more by it’s absence than it’s presence, and it’s easier to describe when comparing one situation with another. Yet most people agree that freedom is one of the most important aspects of life for individuals and for groups.
It’s clear that the chimpanzees lacked even the basic freedoms when they were in the laboratory. And it’s clear that the sanctuary has provided them with immense freedoms, like the freedom to chose how and when you want your day to end, like Katelyn wrote about Jamie on the blog yesterday.
One of the things that really struck me about Monday, when Jamie decided to extend the day, was the choice that Annie made to stay in the greenhouse. While all of the other chimpanzees (minus Jamie, of course) were inside the building in their nests, Annie decided to camp out. She didn’t seem the least bit concerned about what Jamie was doing, she was just making her own decision.
This morning, as volunteers Denice and Sandra were finishing the daily cleaning of the front rooms, I grabbed the camera and headed to the greenhouse. Though it was windy, I was expecting to find several chimpanzees out there. Instead, I found just Annie. And this is how I found her:
Just like the other night, she was perfectly relaxed, nesting comfortably, with no one else around.
I think each day the chimpanzees are discovering more and more of the freedoms afforded by a life in sanctuary. It’s such a beautiful experience to be able to both witness and share this process.
It’s especially poignant with Annie, because she was so anxious when she first arrived at the sanctuary. Her confidence just seems to keep growing and growing.
Tomorrow we will have a party for the chimps in celebration of the United States’ Independence Day, but, just like everyday, we will also be celebrating the independence of seven chimpanzees and welcoming, as each day passes, their discoveries of what freedom in a sanctuary means to them.