Excitement spreads fast in a chimpanzee group. All it takes is for one chimp to get excited or upset, and the whole group is on fire before you know what happened. The chimps respond to each other’s vocalizations even when they’re not in the same room. If someone starts pant hooting in the playroom, you can bet that someone will answer with a pant hoot of their own from the greenhouse. It makes sense that it would benefit a chimpanzee – maybe especially a captive chimpanzee – to be responsive to others’ emotions and moods. I know that if I lived in an enclosure with whirling dervish Burrito, I’d be on guard at the first sign that he was getting worked up.
Today shortly after we let the chimps back into the playroom after cleaning, there was a very brief and mild scuffle. You’ll see how quickly Jamie and Annie respond.