A lot of time, energy and thought go into building and maintaining friendships. Usually, there is an undeniable connection when first meeting one another; a sort of intrigue about what the other is all about. As time goes on and more energy is put into the relationship, more and more details of each individual are realized and a deeper connection forms. And the bond grows stronger, as one another figures out what makes the other tick. These lasting friendships help shape our lives.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to build friendships with the Cle Elum 7. Some of the friendships are low key, like with Annie, Jody, and Negra. Usually a morning greeting (consisting mostly of some head nodding and an arm extended toward the chimps) will suffice. One friendship demands more play time than the others, including chase and tug-of-war. This is often the case with Burrito. Foxie expects me to take care of her troll and dora dolls when she passes them through the cage to me. There is also the expectation that I will pass them back to her too. Quiet grooming sessions with Missy help maintain our friendship. Without a doubt, there is one friendship that takes the most time, effort and thought. Jamie demands me to be her friend; demands me to put on that boot (or boots) and take countless walks around Young’s Hill with her. She also demands that I sit with her afterwards with the boot so she can groom it.
As a caregiver, I want what is best for each of these chimpanzees. I don’t mind the expectations, demands or work that these friendships take. I truly love to see them happy and I want what is best for them, as I would for any friend. Just a few days ago, I couldn’t help but notice the sweet smell of violets in the air as I was working in my yard. Instantly, the chimpanzees popped into my head; flowers are great enrichment for them. These chimpanzees like to eat lilacs, nasturtiums, grape leaves and violets to name a few. So, I picked what violet flowers we had and put them out as part of a forage this morning along with lettuce and today’s enrichment, which was enrichment-in-boxes day. Thinking that the flowers are the first flowers of the season, I thought the chimps would be excited.
I guess I was right, if you count them eating all of the lettuce first, followed by going through all of the boxes of enrichment, then going out into the greenhouse and then spending time on Young’s Hill before coming back in to snack on a few flowers. At least they liked two out of the three!
Here’s a photo of the lettuce and violet forage.
Negra was most interested in the lettuce, while Annie checked out the contents of the box.
Missy was more interested in the contents of the boxes of enrichment than anything else.
Can you spot the flying sock?
And Jamie was most interested in the boxes themselves.
Annie was content to sit on the floor and drink from the fountain after checking out a few of the boxes.
I’m forever grateful to call these chimpanzees my friends.