It was just three weeks ago that we separated Jody from the group in order to stitch an injury to her eyelid. If you didn’t know it had happened, you probably wouldn’t notice that her left eye looks a little different. I suspect in another three weeks even we won’t be able to tell which eye it was.
Dr. Erin did a great job of the procedure, no doubt. Plus chimpanzees have this uncanny ability to heal very quickly (thank goodness!).
I keep thinking back to the days after the procedure and how each step was an affirmation of why Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest exists and the role of the humans at the sanctuary.
When the injury happened, Jody was clearly irritated that her eyelid was kind of just hanging there (sorry for that graphic image), though she was not irritated enough that she ignored the rest of her lunch. On the contrary, she went right back to eating when the fighting had stopped.
The humans figured out pretty quickly that we needed to fix her eyelid because it serves such an important function of protecting the eye. After a little while, Jody seemed to agree with us, and she did not protest when we invited her to be separated from the other chimpanzees with the doors closing behind her.
I really believe that she knew she needed our help.
It took her the whole next day after the procedure to completely recover from the anesthesia, and she allowed me to sit with her (on the other side of the caging) and offer her sips of water in between her naps.
The day after that, however, she wanted to be back with the other chimpanzees.
Though it wasn’t an issue to separate Jody, she was definitely not as content to spend time by herself this time around. She was constantly watching what the group was doing, vocalizing along with them, and hopeful that she would be back with them each time we operated the doors. After a couple more days of healing, there was another reunion, and this time it lasted.
Here’s what I love about Jody’s reaction to all that happened: She accepted our help and let us pamper her a little, but the second she felt even halfway better, she wanted to be with her people. The humans are not her people. She has a family of chimpanzees – they are her people. She’s not related to any of them, but they are her family.
She wanted to be back with them even after sustaining a pretty intense injury during a fight with these same people.
And that explains the role of the humans at the sanctuary. We are protectors and sometimes fixers, up to a point. We make sure that the chimpanzees have food, medical care, and an interesting and comfortable environment.
But the truth is that they need each more than they need us. They have their own lives to lead.
That is one of the reasons why we are working hard on the Bring Them Home Expansion Campaign in order to bring more chimpanzees to the sanctuary. We don’t know how long these seven chimpanzees will be here, but we know that as long as they are alive, they will need a family of other chimpanzees.
For Giving Day for Apes this year, we are highlighting the expansion campaign. We hope you will join in the donating on September 25th to help expand the family at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest and be a part of providing them with what the really need.