Burrito’s been through a lot lately. In early June, he fractured a canine. The injury itself didn’t seem to phase him, but in order to prevent future pain and infection, we needed to extract the tooth. In late June, we performed an exam to do some blood work, check on his heart condition, and assess how he would do under prolonged anesthesia. And in late July, we performed the extraction.
Before he came to the sanctuary from the research lab in 2008, Burrito was sedated for procedures pretty frequently. The routine nature of these “knockdowns” probably didn’t diminish the fear associated with them. Until Burrito’s tooth ordeal, we’ve been incredibly lucky that none of the chimps here have required medical intervention beyond a dose of antibiotics here or there.
When you care for former lab chimpanzees, you hope that they know they’re safe now, and that they trust the difference between their current home and their former ones. We’ve spent the last seven years working to gain these chimps’ trust, and one nagging fear is that something will happen to lose you the trust you’ve earned.
Regardless of the fact that Burrito was surrounded by friends who love him and who want the best for him, it’s likely that the two procedures he had to undergo recently brought back some scary memories from his past life. And regardless of the fact that we’ve seen firsthand how incredibly resilient and forgiving chimps can be, it’s still hard not to fear that you’re going to push things too far and damage the relationships you’ve built.
But we shouldn’t have worried. Burrito has bounced back to his sweet, goofy, mischievous, happy self. His love for the simple things in life – a ripe avocado, a good grooming session, a long and loud bout of chase with a human friend – is as strong as ever. May we all strive to be as irrepressible as this guy.