Jamie is the undisputed leader of the Cle Elum Seven, but she is not a natural leader.
If Jamie spoke, her catchphrase would be “because I said so.” As a leader, she is not always interested in fairness or leniency. She isn’t interested in hearing your arguments or reasoning or appeals. She knows exactly how she believes things should be, and through sheer determination, she makes it happen.
At the sanctuary, one of our goals is to pinpoint exactly what each chimpanzee needs, and give that to them. Of course, all chimpanzees have basic needs like space to run, fresh air, good food, and other chimps. But beyond those basic needs, each individual has needs of their own. (For Foxie, it’s troll dolls. For Burrito, it’s lots of playtime with caregivers.) What Jamie needs is control and respect.
Decades of being forced to submit to the will of humans who did not always treat her kindly have done a number on Jamie’s confidence. It is very important to her that everyone believes in her dominance, but she doesn’t always believe in herself. She rules with an iron fist because she is insecure. She overcompensates.
It’s no surprise that Jamie isn’t the most skilled leader. When she arrived at the sanctuary seven years ago, she must have felt weary, demoralized, and completely defeated. Her life thus far had been devoid of choice, devoid of control. She was powerless. But Jamie decided to change her destiny. In an environment where she is given room to spread her wings, she has done so in the most astounding way. Her path hasn’t always been smooth, but Jamie has reclaimed the respect and dignity she lost to endless years in the labs. Jamie is the boss of ALL of us.