Negra doesn’t pull any punches. She knows exactly what she’s willing to put up with and exactly what she isn’t and she has no problem letting you know where she stands. When we humans do something to displease her she typically threat barks at us, hits the caging, and if we’re in the greenhouse she throws (repeatedly and with force) bark mulch in our faces. If there is a chimpanzee equivalent to swearing, I am pretty sure we hear a lot of profanity directed our way. This in turn usually elicits the quick back-up of her chimp family against the offending human. What would we do to displease our beloved Queen Negra that would call for such reprimands you might ask? Oh, things like offer her something during meals that she already told you she doesn’t want. Serve something stupid when there is obviously a better choice right in front of us, like lettuce or night bags. And sometimes just hand her something she actually asked us for!
Over time, Negra has chosen to interact with her caregivers more and more. And given her particularly heartbreaking history, that’s no small gift. Negra loves us to dance for her and typically nods her head and taps the ground along with us. That said, if she suddenly decides our dancing skills aren’t up to par she gives us a disgusted wave of dismissal and turns her head away. Negra also frequently pushes her lips through the caging to offer us kisses and while we would never miss an opportunity to offer the back of our wrist for a Neggie kiss, it’s truly 50/50 as to if you’ll get a kiss or a sharp poke and a threat bark. As I type this Negra is clacking her teeth against the caging and clapping loudly to alert us to the fact that it is dinner time (and in her mind it has been for the last hour).
Negra is akin to the sharp-tongued, intolerant, sometimes a little bit scary older family member who tells it like it is and yet, you can’t help but love her all the more for it. And none of this means that Negra doesn’t have the most endearing, sweet side as well. Like most of us I suppose. We are thrilled she finally gets to have her say, speak her mind, and be heard with love and respect. Even if it does mean picking bark mulch out of places bark mulch has no business being for days afterward.