Foxie may be tiny (it’s even one of our terms of endearment for her), but her courageous and adventurous spirit are limitless. And while it may take her awhile to warm up to new things, once she makes up her mind to do something, she does it.
If you’ve been following the chimps for awhile you’ve probably seen Foxie and her dolls scaling the highest points on the structures of Young’s Hill and even bravely (and nerve-wrackingly) traversing the slippery metal roof of one. But the one structure we humans haven’t seen her conquer yet, despite numerous attempts, is the Twister. She approaches it with determination and cautiously climbs part way up and every time we watch with bated breath wondering, “Is today the day she’s going to the top?!” But then as she gazes up at the very top to the crow’s nest, she decides she’s not quite ready and climbs back down, moving on to other adventures. Today, that changed.
Jody and Foxie headed up the hill with what appeared to be a sense of determination. Foxie was the first to start climbing the Twister and paused at her usual stopping point.
And then in a flash Jody headed past Foxie all the way up to the top of the Twister which seemed to bolster Foxie’s confidence.
And then it began. Foxie taking slow, cautious steps higher and higher toward her friend, Jody, who was waiting at the top. I could barely contain my excitement for Foxie (as those on the other end of the radio can attest to with my frequent shouts and squeals). I kept expecting her to turn back at any moment, but she kept going.
Once she reached the crow’s nest she found a spot to sit, hanging on precariously and appearing a little uneasy. By this time, Jody had descended the other side and was sitting on a nearby log below watching Foxie. I thought Foxie might decide that was high enough for one day.
Nope! All the way to the top of the crow’s nest!! I raised my arms in the air cheering for her and giving her a head nod which she returned along with a playful thump of approval.
Foxie spent a couple minutes from her new view point and then began trying to figure out how to get back down. First she attempted to go over the side:
Then reassessed the situation and went back through the crow’s nest:
Her leg would swing around as she precariously attempted to find footing she felt comfortable with, but then she steadily made her way back down:
While Jody was waiting for Foxie she picked herself a quick pine tree snack and then rushed over to meet Foxie at the bottom of the Twister:
And in classic Jody style, she escorted her brave friend all the way back to the greenhouse, continually stopping along the way to reassure Foxie and make sure was following her, like the good friend she is:
I realize some of you might be thinking, “Yeesh, she’s a chimp! That’s what chimps are supposed to do! What’s all the hullabaloo?!” But when you consider the very small world in which Foxie, and all the chimps, lived for so long and that every ounce of their courage was needed just to get through each day, to get through the most unimaginable of losses, it’s nothing short of miraculous to see the healing and leaps of bravery that continue to occur almost ten years later. And it makes your heart burst right out of your chest seeing all their innate courage finally getting to be used to expand and enrich their world, their hearts and their spirits in whichever way is meaningful to them.