We’re getting ready for the small groundbreaking ceremony this afternoon! The actual construction on Phase 1 of the expansion will start in a little over two weeks, but today we’re having a ceremonial start to this huge project. I can’t even express how happy we are to have arrived at this day and how incredibly grateful I am for every single person who has donated these last two years as we fundraised to begin this project.
We have a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s amazing to be finally at the first step towards bringing more chimpanzees home.
In the meantime, I bring you my thoughts this morning as I walked around Young’s Hill with Jamie, Missy, Jody, and Foxie walking together on the inside of their habitat…
In the wild, chimpanzees societies are patriarchal. With their might, size, and testosterone, even low-ranking adult males are said to outrank all of the adult females in any given group. In captivity, things are often quite different. Every group of chimpanzees that I have worked with for an extended period of time has had a strong female that clearly called many of the shots and at least occasionally put their foot down with males in the group.
Maybe it’s because the chimpanzees I’ve known have not been socialized into a normal chimpanzee society – they were raised in human environments or spent much of their time living alone or in pairs within laboratory settings. Or maybe part of it is that chimpanzees are flexible and adaptable, figuring their relationships out as they go rather than having a rigid, strictly biologically-driven social order. Most likely it’s a bit of this and a bit of that.
Even though it’s not what they would be doing in the wild, and it would likely be much better if they were living in a more balanced male-to-female group, I can’t help but admire the female power that exists at the sanctuary.
Like today, when this all-female patrol walked around the perimeter of their territory.