If you were to diagram the relationships between the chimps at CSNW, Foxie would be the one point at the center that connects everyone together.
She is by far the best friend that Jody has. The two like to take morning walks around Young’s Hill together and play gentle tickling and wrestling games while lying on their backs. When Jody is upset, Foxie is there to comfort her.
She is one of Missy’s favorite play partners, and one of the few that can keep up with Missy’s breakneck pace.
And while she got off to a rocky start with Annie, the two have come to understand each other better in the last couple of years and these days it’s not uncommon for them to play together or spend time with each other surveying the valley below Young’s Hill.
Foxie is one of the only chimps that can get Jamie to let down her guard and play. If it weren’t for Foxie, Jamie would never get a break from being bossy. And that, frankly, wouldn’t be good for anyone.
To be Negra’s friend, you have to learn to go at her speed. Foxie can groom quietly with Negra, but she also gets Negra to let loose once and a while. She does this by inviting her to play with big, exaggerated play gestures, knowing that she has to be clear with Negra and ensure that Negra still wants to play along at every step of the way. This gentle and understanding approach has really helped Negra come out of her shell.
And I don’t know where Burrito would be without his 90-lb bodyguard. Whenever Burrito gets himself into trouble, she is there, trolls in hand, and ready to place herself in harm’s way to defend him.
Primatologists often refer to a primate’s political skills as “Machiavellian intelligence.” Chimps with a high level of Machiavellian intelligence are able to work social relationships to their advantage. They form alliances and exchange favors in an effort to climb the social ladder. If I didn’t know her better, I might think that Foxie is a Machiavellian genius, the way that she has won everyone over. But I don’t think she has a cynical or manipulative bone in her body. She just likes everyone and wants everybody to get along. And they, in turn, like her. How could you not?
Nature documentaries tend to focus on the alpha males, and in many human societies, we deify the powerful. But behind all the brash, dominant types hogging the spotlight, there’s usually someone like Foxie holding everything together.
If anyone deserves our admiration, it’s her.