It’s hard to imagine the chimpanzees once being so different from who we know them to be today. I think this on most days, and yet every day they each show us another dimension of themselves. These seven individuals, so full of life, personality, courage and intelligence spent decades forced to live on the periphery of their lives. But with each passing season they become more fully themselves.
A year or so ago, and for some of the chimpanzees even less, we would not have had to “squint” to see who was out on Young’s Hill, so far away they appear a mere speck among the greenery. This season in particular, the chimpanzees seem to be embodying a spring of their own, literally changing and growing by the day.
All the chimpanzees (with the exception of Negra for whom the outdoor temperatures are still not quite warm enough) enjoyed wandering far and wide on Young’s Hill after breakfast this morning. They often head out as a troop at this time, but where they used to stick together, they much more frequently spread out to take in their own adventure while just keeping an eye on one another. But that said, once someone starts to head back to the greenhouse the others often follow.
Missy (L) and Jamie (R):
From left to right: Annie, Missy, and Jamie
When they all headed back inside this morning I greeted each of them as they passed by and quickly realized Foxie was missing from the group. I stood up, my eyes scanning the hill for a sign of her, and I finally spotted her at the very top of the furthest climbing structure, perfectly content and enjoying her solitude with Dora and Troll.
When she saw that I had spotted her, she gave me a head nod and play slapped the platform as she shook Dora in my direction. I nodded back to her in acknowledgement and waited for her to eventually make her way back to the chimp house. In such moments I don’t think I could fully express all that is in my heart in seeing each of their hearts and souls blooming. Knowing what an immense journey it has been, and continues to be for each of them. The chimpanzees help remind me to accept things as they are each day. But to always hold the space, the expectation, and the hope for the ever changing gifts of each passing season.