The Negra we know so well is happiest when snuggled up with a pile of blankets. She likes warmth and comfort and predictability, and avoids unnecessary exertion. You would not call her adventurous. She usually looks like this:
But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the Cle Elum Seven chimpanzees, it’s this: Never assume you’ve got someone figured out. Seven years after arriving at the sanctuary from the research lab, these chimps are still changing, growing, and surprising us.
Over the last few days, Negra has established what looks to be a new routine for herself. After lunch, she marches confidently outside, walks all the way to the top of Young’s Hill, and stations herself in the tall grass to munch on some wild plants.
This may not seem remarkable, but for Negra, it’s huge. She is not an outdoors person. She doesn’t like wind or rain or too much sun or too little sun. She has always been uneasy in the wide open spaces of Young’s Hill, and she prefers to stay near the bottom of the hill next to the chimp house so she can rush inside to safety at a moment’s notice. She must feel very small out there.
It’s hard to say what accounts for Negra’s newfound serenity, but we hope it’s just the first step toward her world opening up a little more.