Initially, Annie had no use for her party yesterday. While everyone else partied in the greenhouse Annie promptly bypassed the indoor festivities and ventured outside to Young’s Hill all on her own. She took her time foraging and scooped up most of everything that was out there, enjoying it all at her own pace. It was amazing to watch her sitting out there enjoying her celebration in peace and solitude.
If you’ve been following the blog for awhile you may know that Annie hasn’t always been so comfortable in her own skin. I think of all the chimps, her change over the last nine years in sanctuary is one of the most apparent. I still remember so clearly the early days after the chimps gained access to their outdoor enclosure and one day I watched Annie, sitting in the raceway to the hill wanting so badly to be with her best friend Missy who was zipping and zooming around out there with ease. Annie’s eyes were glued to Missy as she rocked with anxiety awaiting her return to the greenhouse.
It was heart wrenching to watch those moments. But of course, we trusted that Annie would find the courage to move forward in her own space and time. That’s one of the most beautiful things about sanctuary. Space and time. Space and time for each of the chimps to heal. Space and time for each of their battered souls to come back to them and explore, learn and remember who they are. After nine years in sanctuary, each of the chimps continue to surprise us every single day with their brave, daring, curious, creative, intelligent and beautiful selves.
What a gift that is. For all of us who have the privilege to watch them, and most importantly, for each of the chimps who with each passing day/week/month/year get to celebrate being their own person. However that looks.
Bonus Negra photo from the party because, well, that face!: