This afternoon, Jody went outside to pick some raspberry bushes. On her way back, she passed by Missy and the two stopped for a kiss.
It’s not uncommon for chimpanzees to kiss like this. Sometimes these kisses resemble our own, with one chimpanzee’s lips pressed against the cheek, lips, or hand of another chimpanzee. Other times they more closely resemble a bite, but with the lips covering the teeth, and may be placed anywhere on the body. Kisses can serve as a greeting, a form or reassurance, or an act of submission. They can reduce tension in moments of conflict, and may serve as a request for permission to hold onto something valuable like food (as Jody may be doing in the photo above) or one’s place in a desirable location. At times they are rough and playful, accompanied by panting or laughter. At other times, they are gentle and loving.
My favorite photo of a kiss is still the one below. When Annie was frightened and screamed for reassurance, Missy leapt to her side and allowed Annie to give her a big open mouth kiss on the lips.