Chimpanzees spend a lot of time grooming each other. Grooming serves hygienic purposes – removing dead skin, tending to wounds – but maybe more importantly it serves to strengthen bonds between individuals. Chimpanzees don’t seem to have the same hangups about personal space as many of us do; they are not shy about getting right up in each other’s faces (or other body parts). It’s hard to imagine how two individuals wouldn’t be closer after a chimpanzee grooming session.
For the most part, the chimps seem to take these invasions of personal space in stride. This afternoon, though, I found poor Foxie pinned into a corner of the greenhouse by Burrito and Jamie, who were both showering her with (seemingly unwanted) attention. She looked like she wouldn’t mind a little breathing room (that’s Burrito in front of Foxie with his back to the camera, and Jamie on the right).