Negra, the grumpy 43-year-old Queen of the Cle Elum Seven, plays differently than the other chimps. Usually, she plays at one quarter speed. You can often see her playing gently with Missy in the loft or greenhouse while they are waiting for breakfast. Missy does her best to play at Negra’s pace, and the look on her face indicates that she is more excited about the very idea that she got the sleepy old lady to play than she is about the game itself. Look everybody, Negra is playing!
But when Negra is feeling really playful, she is a different animal altogether. There’s no smiling. No laughing, either. And all the hitting and wrestling that chimpanzees usually tone down and smooth over when playing is dished out with full force. She slaps her playmates. She headbutts them. She slams them into the wall. She grabs them by the feet and refuses to let go.
Missy and Foxie are well acquainted with Negra’s style of play, but it often comes as a surprise to the other chimps. At these times, they look more like hostages than playmates. At one point in this video, Jody turns to the camera, seemingly hoping that someone will step in to save her. But alas, there’s nothing we can do. Playtime isn’t over until Negra says so.