Mornings in the chimp house are a favorite time. The chimpanzees almost always wake up on the happy side of the nest, sleepy, yet playful, happy to see all their human friends and as excited for breakfast as if they’ve never had breakfast in their lives. Ever. It’s also usually the one time of day when those who are less inclined to spend their time engaging with us humans want to share a quick morning greeting before getting on with their day. I always have some grand plan to film them waking up or at least get photos, but that plan has yet to materialize.
When we arrive in the morning there is a least one person sitting in front room. The perfect place from which to monitor arrivals by the driveway and into the kitchen and they’re the first person we see as we enter the kitchen. It’s very often boss lady, Jamie, up and at it, ready for the day, naturally. But this morning she was nowhere to be seen, replaced by this fella (slightly blurry because he was stomping his foot and getting ready to sprint into the greenhouse with the expectation I’d chase him out there).
When I unlocked the door to the chimp area I spotted Jody, bedhead backlit in the window she nested by which overlooks the valley, fluffing up her blankets and not quite ready for the day to begin.
Then Foxie whizzed over, hair standing on end with excitement (pilo), her usual greeting of passing her doll to us and running off for a game of chase or a backflip or a pirouette or some other endearing Foxie-ism:
Low and behold, Jamie was sleeping in and I just spotted her raise her head from her nest, wearing a fabulous Olympic flags scarf tied with troll dolls that she had apparently chosen to sleep in. Jamie’s first order of business is usually to direct us to get a boot on tout de suite. But it always takes a few minutes during this process to determine what kind of mood she’s actually in. I think that’s true for most of us when we first wake up. 😉 So it’s always a delight (and yes, a bit of a relief) to see her joyful and silly as was indicated today, by her racing downstairs, climbing up on her barrel and kicking and flailing about:
With Burrito still running in and out playing chase, he was making the girls a little wary as they expected (understandably so) him to explode into his usual morning display at any moment. I found Jody and sweet, sleepy Annie, in the doorway to the greenhouse ready to make a quick getaway should he come flying their way:
This entire time, Negra was at the very top of the greenhouse with a purple blanket over her head, enjoying her usual slow morning until breakfast was ready. She pretty much sees zero reason she should get out of bed until you have a decent looking breakfast service in hand. Smart woman. That said, she always sends down soft hoots and a droopy lip to greet us.
Missy is another person who often likes to linger in bed a bit so she tends to stay up in the toasty loft until her best friend, Annie, rouses her from her nest when they engage in slow motion chase with the girls. But by breakfast Missy is raring to go and afterward is usually one of the first to race up Young’s Hill, ready to head off on her first adventure of the day:
While mornings are often a special time to spend with the chimps, the best thing is just seeing them wake up so full of joy. One of my most beloved memories was one summer morning when I was able to observe the chimps waking up and walking and swinging into the greenhouse. They didn’t know I was there and as I lay still on the outdoor observation deck, I watched each person sleepily following the other, yawning, rubbing their eyes, all the while engaging in half asleep games of chase and tickle, laughing with eyes still half in dream time. Seeing them wake up together so content and full of joy, excited to see what their day would bring, without being aware of the humans’ presence was one of the single most gratifying moments I’ve had. It confirmed what we all hope sanctuary means to them, what each of you provides for them. And that’s the best gift.