The Cle Elum Seven chimpanzees had lived together in the lab for a few years before they came to the sanctuary, so they were already an established group when we met them. Like any family, theirs contained a range of personalities. Some were dominant and some were submissive, some were serious and some were fun-loving, some were social and some were independent.
When the group first arrived at the sanctuary eight years ago, Jody and Negra kept to themselves pretty consistently. They would show up to meals, but that was about the only group activity they showed any interest in. For most of the day, they would each find a quiet spot, make a nest, and enjoy their solitude.
We love that the chimps have the freedom to make their own choices, so we were glad that Negra and Jody were spending their days in the ways that made them happy. Still, as we watched some of the other chimps find joy and comfort in companionship, we couldn’t help but wish that Jody and Negra would open themselves up to this experience.
Fast forward eight years: Today we know a Jody and a Negra who still appreciate their alone time, but who also regularly seek out soothing grooming sessions or gentle play sessions with their friends. They remain fundamentally the same people we met years ago, but now their worlds are just a little bigger.