To follow up on Elizabeth’s post yesterday, here’s a good example of Burrito’s other side – the testosterone-filled Tasmanian Devil side that leaves a path of destruction and screaming girls in its wake. This is the side we usually see when we arrive to work in the morning.
As you’ll see in the video, Annie was the victim of one of Burrito’s drive-by displays this morning. Being a chimpanzee is stressful, but they have some pretty good ways of dealing with that stress. Like hugs, for example.
One thing you might notice in the video is that Annie also seeks reassurance from me and I don’t offer it to her. As hard as it may be to resist in these instances, we make a conscious decision to avoid inserting ourselves into their social conflicts. If Annie was startled by a loud noise, we would gladly offer her a touch with the back of a wrist to help comfort her. But when she’s involved in a social conflict, we risk upsetting the delicate balance in the group if we inject ourselves, even if it’s just to offer reassurance. At these times, the chimps aren’t just looking for emotional support – they may also be looking for political allies or even backup for an ensuing retaliatory fight. So we try to limit our involvement to a polite acknowledgement in the hope that they will work things out amongst each other. And they usually do.
Besides, no one can comfort a chimpanzee better than another chimpanzee.