Last night, while the chimpanzees were all inside enjoying their sparkling cider for New Year’s Eve, I ran out to close the hill for the evening. With well below freezing temperatures, the sky growing dark, and Jamie inside, I assumed everyone was in for the evening. And then I saw movement out of the corner of my eye that took my brain a minute to compute. Low and behold Foxie had declined the New Year’s Eve festivities and chose to ring in the new year by having an adventure and foraging for snow treats!
Much to Jody’s horror…
Jody is such a good friend and patiently waited for Foxie, even venturing up the icy path to collect her at one point. Foxie wasn’t ready to come inside yet and sweet Jody headed back to wait for her at the entry to the greenhouse, slipping and sliding her way back down the path. Foxie stayed out quite awhile, seemingly watching the surrounding skies light up with the sunset and enjoying her time. Much to Jo’s relief, Foxie eventually made her way back, collecting several snow treats along the way and then she and Jody raced into the warm chimp house together. We all celebrate in our own way.
Earlier in the day, I was showing Jamie my winter boots with the YakTrax on. As one might imagine, winter shoewear is pretty exciting for Jamie. As we sat together Jamie kept gesturing, unsatisfied with the usual winter boots and Yakthax grooming, or even with me wearing her boots. It took me several minutes to realize she wanted to see the YakTrax on HER boots. Of course she did! She was so excited! Once she had a good visual of them she asked for her boots (thankfully understanding she couldn’t have the Yaktrax with them) and happily retreated to her nest with them.
Here she is sound asleep, her foot in one of her favorite new Christmas boots.
As for today, Kelsi and I arrived bright and early this first morning of 2018, arms full of goods for the chimps’ New Year’s Day celebration. But the chimps made it very clear from the start that today, we were doing things differently. Specifically, we were doing things Missy-style! All. Day. Long. During the winter, Missy is a bit infamous for choosing not to shift during the daily routine, meaning that she will sometimes choose not to leave an area so that we can go in and clean. So the humans adjust their routine or just wait it out.
In order to set up the party we needed access to the playroom, but it’s cozy, light and spacious in there and no one else was particularly interested in leaving that area either. And that’s great, it’s an example of the chimps getting to choose how their day goes. But what is a little more unique is that they’ve been choosing not to shift out of any area today! Bribes of gum, nuts, and even tiny tomatoes for Missy haven’t even swayed them! We were finally able to begin cleaning at precisely the time we normally finish the entire chimp house. So the human party plans were put out in increments or not at all. But the chimps seemed perfectly content with doing things their way and that’s what’s most important.
Jamie enjoying sparkling cider:
The chimps still weren’t interested in shifting out of the playroom for dinner in our last attempt to set up the party forage so instead enjoyed a full service dinner of black-eyed peas with cherry tomatoes, kale, baked onions and baked pears for dinner. To heck with spot cleaning. Maybe they thought since we had JUST cleaned, that was good enough. So we doled out extra blankets in the food chutes and switched up evening enrichment so we could pass it out.
As I write this, the chimps are hooting and hollering (led by ringleader, Missy) seemingly just for the heck of it. I like to think they are celebrating another year of freedom of having choices and freedom to make those choices as they deem fit. Freedom to call the shots in their own home. Freedom to change their minds. Freedom to be chimps. And really, freedom just to be. I think that’s what we all want to be able to celebrate.
Happy New Year everyone!