Burrito was the first chimpanzee I saw this morning. He was sitting in the last front room looking out the window with the morning light shining on his face. It was such a peaceful moment. And then we made eye contact; and from that moment on, he was ready to go. And by go, I mean ready to play. He took the little toy wooden block he had in his hand and put it in his mouth. Then he got up from the bench, gave a good foot stomp and ran out to the Greenhouse.
Who could resist an invitation to play a game of chase like that? So, I ran out to the human area next to the greenhouse and gave a good foot stomp. He ran back and forth along the platform, continuing to foot stomp along the way. As soon as I would catch up to him, he would quickly change direction and run the other way. In between running back and forth, he did a couple of play bows before running off again. We continued this for a few minutes before he sat down and put his back against the wire fencing, for me to give him a few knuckle rubs.
It’s moments like these that I find it so hard to imagine how he endured year after year, decade after decade in the tiny little cages he (and the other chimpanzees) lived in. Finally, he is able to wake up in the morning and start the day off with a good play session. To be able to run and play with the other chimpanzees and caregivers is what sanctuary is about.
Caregiver Katelyn was able to capture a few photos of him shortly after our play session. By that time he had changed his toy of choice to a hard plastic fish.