I’ve been working closely with chimpanzees for over a decade now, and sometimes I forget how unusual my job is. Just like anything you do day in and day out, being a chimpanzee caregiver starts to feel routine after awhile. Not boring – never boring! – but routine. It’s such a strange and amazing little world we caregivers live in, but because we live in it, it seems downright normal. We find ourselves in some truly surreal situations here at the sanctuary – stuffing a troll doll’s head with peanut butter for an enrichment project or wearing a single ill-fitting cowboy boot and taking a perimeter walk around Young’s Hill with the alpha chimpanzee – but even these things stop seeming weird the longer you do them.
But I’ve learned that no matter how many days, months, or years I spend caring for chimps, they never lose their power to captivate. Sometimes it’s seeing them do something amazing or funny or endearing that takes me back a decade or so to when I was first falling in love with chimps. And sometimes it’s just having a moment to study their incredible faces. I find myself mesmerized by each hair, wrinkle, freckle, and scar.