Foxie’s love of her dolls is an endless source of heart-melting joy, fascination and mystery to us. If you’ve been following the chimpanzees for awhile you are probably aware that Foxie’s love of her dolls (that we’re aware of) began shortly after the chimps’ arrival to the sanctuary in 2008 with her subsequent discovery of “Trixie” the troll doll. For several years, Foxie lived and breathed troll dolls and showed little to no interest in other dolls or forms of enrichment.
Then Dora the Explorer appeared on the scene and for reasons known only to Foxie, she was utterly smitten. Dora quickly raised through the ranks to join the status of the trolls. While we’ll never know what mysterious criteria Dora met, we were happy to see Foxie branching out with her interests. She became particularly enamored with France Dora. She definitely has a certain “je ne sais quoi” and to this day I think she remains Foxie’s most treasured of all the Dora dolls.
Fast forward a few years and Foxie branched out even further to include Dora’s friends:
It’s hard to resist wanting to interpret Foxie’s behavior with her dolls and in our curiosity to make guesses as to Foxie’s doll criteria, we thought maybe it was the combination of big hair and big eyes. Most recently she’s incorporated the new Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Big hair: check! Big eyes: check!
And then…Foxie threw us a curve ball by falling in love with the new old-style Strawberry Shortcakes. Big hair: meh, not so much. Big eyes: no, beady!
When Foxie adds another doll to her collection that doesn’t mean her trolls and Dora dolls lose their status. Her comfort level just seems to expand allowing her natural curious nature to investigate new things. And it seems her heart feels increasingly safer to let new experiences in. And we certainly know that our fellow animals experience the same emotions we humans do. That said, it’s tempting to read too much into Foxie’s behavior and it’s emotionally appealing and comforting for us to think her love for her dolls is all about a chance to be the mother she was never allowed to be to her four children she gave birth to in the labs who were stolen from her. After such incomprehensible trauma, it’s clear the dolls bring Foxie enormous comfort and joy and I think it’s safe to say she does engage in mothering behavior with them, but at the same time she often beats them up. And I mean beats.them.up!
And so as curious as we are and as well as we know Foxie, just as with any other person, we can never know for sure what she is thinking. Nor would we be so species-centric if you will, to assume. And the thing is, it doesn’t matter. Foxie is Foxie and her happiness doesn’t need definition. Nor does our love for her. Her happiness and well-being, that’s the only thing that’s our business.
It’s been a few weeks since Foxie has received a new Dora and when we surprised her with one a supporter had sent, it was evident that Dora’s still got it. Whatever “it” may be.