As caregivers, we all love to write and talk about the best aspects of chimpanzees. We celebrate each chimpanzee that we know as an individual and of course cannot help but compare them to ourselves. Like humans, chimpanzees form deep friendships, they play and laugh, grieve their lost love ones and generally display the same wide range of emotions that we do. It’s no wonder that we all find them to be so deeply fascinating and relatable.
This brings me to today’s blog post, the other side of the chimpanzee “coin.” When we talk about both humans and chimpanzees, we cannot always separate out the good facets of our nature from the negative ones. The truth is, chimpanzees (like humans) fight. They have disagreements, hold grudges and can sometimes appear to be incredibly irrational to outside observers. They can also hurt each other (even those that they are incredibly close to). When we watch the chimpanzees fight and argue, we see them express themselves in the most intense and dramatic ways possible. They scream and they hit, they bite and they kick. Despite the perceived drama, most arguments at the sanctuary do not end with an injury. But sometimes they do. Yesterday, good friends Burrito and Foxie got into a fight. While the conflict was resolved relatively quickly, Foxie lost a large part of cartilage from her left ear. Luckily, the injury appears clean and she doesn’t seem to be particularly upset by the loss (chimps are TOUGH). Apart from some pain and swelling management (using oral medications), we shouldn’t need to do any medical intervention. As you might imagine, Foxie does look a little different now.
Quick fights that end with injuries like these ones are also great reminders of why chimpanzees make terrible pets and why humans never go in the enclosures with the chimps. They’re also great reminders of how forgiving chimps can be. Yesterday, Diana spotted Foxie and Burrito grooming together probably 10 minutes after the fight was over.
“Forgiveness is the final form of love.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr