Independence is a trait we celebrate in the chimpanzee sanctuary community. If a chimpanzee exhibits independence, it means they take advantage of the sanctuary environment they are provided with, and choose to do what they want, when they want it. You may recall that Jamie shows a deep independent streak when it comes to letting staff close off Young’s Hill for the night (especially on warm evenings).
Negra (like Jamie) is an independent character. But unlike Jamie, she is not known for choosing Young’s Hill as the place to spend her time. She mostly prefers to nap indoors in a cozy blanket pile or sit at a window and survey the valley below the sanctuary. Lately, Negra has harnessed her courage to travel to almost the top of Young’s Hill and pick mouthfuls of wild prickly lettuce that grows especially thick on several mounds of earth.
It was on one of these mounds that I found Negra last week. As the rest of the staff set about doing a positive reinforcement training session with their chimpanzee partners, my partner (Negra) opted out of the training session and chose instead to munch happily away on the hill. The fact that Negra got to make a choice is what life in a sanctuary is all about.