As many of you know, our beloved (and sometimes troublesome) resident elk, Ellie, has made it a very well-known fact that she is in fact a horse. Or a cow. Or a goat. Or a human! But certainly not a wild elk. Despite her outward friendliness, we still keep our distance—she is still wild, after all, and ideally we would love for her to be more wild and less attracted to sticking around humans.
Today, Elizabeth spotted Ellie up on a high hill to the south of the sanctuary property. We both laughed, saying “what is Ellie doing way over there?” And then we realized, when four other elk followed, that wasn’t Ellie at all! We got very excited to see a small herd, which is sort of amusing when we see Ellie every day—elk really aren’t novel animals to us. But a herd! So exciting.
Unfortunately, Ellie was busy breaking into our compost bin—a very Ellie-type thing to do—so she missed the herd as they passed through. As much as we wish for her to be wild, we recognize that she is a unique being. She probably will always be more human-oriented because of how she grew up. Honestly, I’m not sure she would identify herself as an elk.
Imagine growing up with another species as your primary caregivers—you would undoubtedly have some sort of identity crisis. And though it is no one’s fault that Ellie was separated from her herd and ended up living at the farm next door, it’s definitely not the ideal situation for an elk.
For a chimpanzee, living in a human home is even more unnatural, and not surprisingly chimpanzees raised so closely with humans really struggle with their identity. Elizabeth wrote about “Burrito the misfit” the other day, and it’s so true. If he had been raised in an appropriate social environment, he most likely would be alpha male.
Some other “side effects” to being raised in an natural environment are Jamie’s love of boots and Foxie’s love of trolls. Though these are just part of everyday life here at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, when you think about it for a minute, it really is quite odd. But they are all unique beings and all have their idiosyncratic tendencies. For Ellie, that means rummaging through things, sitting in Diana and JB’s garden, and taking perimeter walks alongside the humans as Jamie leads the way on the inside of Young’s Hill.
For Foxie, that means delighting in these sort of funny-looking dolls with big eyes, crazy colorful hair, and hard plastic bodies. Here she is in a calm relaxing moment with one of her dolls (you can see just part of the troll in the top picture—he/she is out of the frame in the others but was still in her hand).