Walking into the chimp house this morning we declared it “Thunderdome.” Or perhaps “Chimpdome” is more appropriate. In other words, the chimps were loud, riled up, arguing and being, well, chimps. We have mentioned before that it’s our goal with the blog to share the chimps’ lives and their natural behavior with you in a balanced, realistic and educational manner. And generally speaking, the chimps spend their days just as you see, playing, nesting, grooming, exploring and eating in a relatively mellow (if you’re a chimp) manner. And as you may be aware, it’s also very normal chimp behavior for them to be extra exuberant, argue and fight, but more often than not, we don’t have the foresight to grab the camera at those times to share with you. And today was no exception.
As the weather changes and colder, wetter days set in the chimps often initially react to the sudden changes in routine in much the same manner we do when we suddenly find ourselves stuck inside more often. Especially if we’re confined with friends and/or family members, it’s easier for tensions to build. And today the chimps spent the better part of the day hooting, hollering, screaming, arguing and fighting with one another over a variety of grievances and perceived injustices. Shortly after lunch, the chimps seemed to reach boiling point with whatever was going on between them and a particularly loud and wild rumpus of a fight broke out and even made it’s way onto Young’s Hill in the rain. (Don’t worry, no one was injured or harmed). Even Negra, who typically avoids such scenarios, had something to say and threw a plastic plate at Burrito.
When fights break out between the chimpanzees the humans stay out of it. It’s the chimps’ business and it’s of utmost importance that they work it out between themselves without us adding to the issues. Fights don’t usually last long and typically resolve with everyone in a big grooming pile re-establishing their bonds. What we humans do during fights is plug our ears (screaming chimps are ear-splittingly loud) and calmly as possible follow and observe them so that we can be aware of the dynamics of the group, who the fight was between (which often morphs and changes as the fight continues) and if anyone incurs any injuries. No, it’s not always easy to watch, but the more you become familiar with chimp behavior, you realize it’s more often than not a lot of bluster, chasing and yelling. The chimps don’t often even make contact with one another.
After airing all their grievances the chimps went to their respective corners and spent the rest of the rainy afternoon in their individual nests, no one speaking to one another. But chimps being the social beings they are, spending time alone after fighting means things haven’t been resolved. So Anna, JB and I monitored from afar and after a long afternoon of silence, the chimps finally huddled together in groups, grooming and making up. Just in time for dinner. 🙂
While the chimps took a time out from one another, I managed to get a few photos. Here’s Foxie enjoying a bucket of warm berry tea from an earlier tea forage:
Jamie perusing a new magazine from her nest:
Burrito, yawning and resting up:
The chimps enjoyed a peaceful dinner and after we took a few runs (literally) around Young’s Hill before dark with Jamie, they are each tucked into their nests for the night, lights out and back to a peaceful state. For the time being. I suspect we will all sleep well tonight.