The toastiest of toasty greenhouses, a full belly, a good friend (annnnnd…a blanket?!?!) equals the sleepiest of sleepy Foxies:
If you’ve been following the chimps’ lives for awhile you’ve probably seen us write about the fact that Foxie is the only one of the chimps who chooses not to nest with any blankets. She’s quite comfortable curling up in her tiny chimp way with her dolls on the heated floor or a sun puddle on a platform. I took all these photos, speaking to her throughout and even resized them for the blog before it suddenly dawned on me that she was sleeping on a blanket! I ran out to the greenhouse to see if maybe it had just appeared that way in the photos, but nope! There was not one, but two blankets curled around her. Not in full nest fashion like most of the other chimps, but decidedly under her. !!!
You may think, “What’s the big deal?” In the grand scheme of things, nothing really, as she’s been perfectly content before. Foxie has appeared happy and at ease nesting as she chooses sans blankets for almost eleven years now. Perhaps her whole life. And while it’s merely emotionally appealing to the humans to think she might be extra comfortable with blankets, she obviously knows herself best. But I’ve observed Foxie choosing to incorporate a few new changes into her days recently.
Foxie has also been known not to like to engage much with enrichment or reach into things, like boxes or bags, even if her beloved dolls are in them. The other night we gave the chimps grab bags for their evening enrichment (brown paper bags filled with toys and treats such as seeds and nuts, peanut butter pinecones, etc) when I heard a flurry of ripping and tearing. Grab bags are coveted by most of the chimps, but especially Jamie. I assumed it was her creating the commotion and when I went to see what all the hullabaloo was about, there stood Foxie, bipedal, tugging with all her might to extract several bags from the food chute and then proceed to go through each one and pull out all the items she wanted. My heart swelled.
Foxie has also demonstrated sudden progress in PRT (Positive Reinforcement Training). PRT allows us to work with the chimpanzees and invite them to participate in their healthcare which ideally makes simpler medical interventions easier and often dramatically reduces their stress when treatment is required. Foxie and I, along with Missy, are partners. We’ve been doing PRT for a few years now and as you may already be guessing from the above, Foxie isn’t really a fan. Of course, it makes perfect sense given her history. But low and behold, with the support and assistance of Missy, and sometimes the other chimps, demonstrating that a little spray here and there isn’t really a bad thing, Foxie is now participating more than she ever has. She’s not always thrilled, but she does it and continues to engage. There are even times that her relief and satisfaction in having participated and coming through “unscathed” seems almost palpable, as if she knows she accomplished something that required a lot of courage and it wasn’t so bad after all.
All these years later since arriving to the sanctuary, the chimps continue to amaze, surprise and delight us with their new found interests and courageous adventures. Even if the chimps try something new and choose never to do it again, their universe and spirits expanded from all the courage it took to try. Reaching into a bag, allowing a blanket to touch you, comfort you, may not seem big in the grand scheme of things. But for Foxie and her family, these seemingly small steps continue to be big ones in their healing. And for me, my heart shoots off silent fireworks, I want to jump and shout from the rooftops, because I’ve had the privilege to witness the bravest of brave souls expand.