It takes a lot of trust for two chimpanzees to play together. Many play behaviors are variations on fighting behaviors – chasing, wrestling, stealing, slapping, hitting, etc. – and as play gets more aggressive, it’s easy to misunderstand your partner’s intentions. When the chimps first arrived at the sanctuary, Foxie and Annie would occasionally attempt to play, and it almost always ended up as a fight. They just didn’t have enough trust in one another.
Things sure have changed.
I wouldn’t say that Foxie and Annie are best friends now, but they certainly have come to understand each other more and they even engage in rough and tumble play from time to time without it erupting into a conflict. This morning, Foxie even allowed Annie to playfully steal (and dismember!) one of her Dora dolls. That’s when you know you are a member of Foxie’s inner circle.
I’m kind of new around here and I have a question about the dolls Foxie plays with. Has she ever been a mother and do you think her interaction with them suggests she wants a baby? I’m just curious. Thanks!
Hi Shelly – Welcome! Thanks for following the lives of the Cle Elum Seven – I’m sure you’ll grow to love them just as much as we do 🙂
To answer your question: Yes, Foxie had five babies in the lab, all taken from her shortly after birth, and it’s likely that she is expressing some maternal instinct with her dolls. Sanctuaries, however, don’t allow breeding, for a few reasons. First, any baby born here would take the place of a chimpanzee that is need of rescue from a lab, the entertainment industry, or pet ownership. And second, as much as we strive to provide the best environment possible for them, we really don’t believe that captivity in any form is good for chimpanzees, and we wouldn’t want to perpetuate the cycle.
To be honest, we’re not sure how Foxie would react to a baby in the group. We’ve given her baby chimpanzee dolls before, and the more realistic they are, the more likely she is to be aggressive towards them. So it might even be for the best that she sticks with trolls and Dora dolls.
But it’s possible that we will be able to rescue some juvenile chimpanzees in the future, and that may give Foxie the chance to show a little of that maternal care that she (usually) shows to her dolls.
Thank you for your reply. I agree that allowing the chimps to breed is not ethically responsible. I was just curious about her behavior toward them and wondered if it was maternal. And by the way – I am already in love with the Cle Elum Seven, Burrito in particular. I recently became a Chimpanzee Pal to him. <3
I am very glad I found you guys. I saw an article on Washoe the chimpanzee back in the early 80's and became fascinated with her. I read Roger Fouts book about her and all the other research chimps and it affected me deeply. I started to follow Washoe's group at CHCI in Washington and would check in on them every day on their live cams. I was devastated when Washoe passed away in 2007. It hurt my heart to watch the others on the cams and I drifted away. I felt as though nothing would change and I was so disheartened.
The laws are finally changing however. I know that one day there will be no more chimps (or any primates) suffering and abused in research labs. Until that day – I want to help celebrate the ones who have these wonderful new lives and help support and fight for those who do not.
Thanks for what you do!!
So nice to read that the chimpanzees’ relationships with each other continue to deepen. They have missed out on a lot, and it is rewarding to know that some of those experiences are being restored to them in sanctuary.