As J.B. mentioned yesterday, and as I’m sure you would have surmised in any case, we’ve been spending extra time outside of our normal hours at the sanctuary as Burrito recovers. (If you are wondering about Honey B and why we don’t talk about her recovery, well, that’s because her day to day quickly returned to normal and she’s doing great!)
The first few days following last Friday’s procedure were pretty much 24/7 Burrito-watch.
We are grateful that Burrito’s chimpanzee friends on the other side of the mesh provided their own nursing and care skills. Honestly, I think their presence is what helped him the most after his surgery. Once again, they have shown us that their relationships with one another, though not always peaceful, provide a social network that the humans are woefully inadequate to imitate.
As Burrito has gotten better, we have not needed to stay overnight by his side, but we’ve still made late-night visits to check on him and give him food and medication.
The sanctuary owns a house on site that J.B. and I have lived in since 2009. It’s a hundred or so yards from the chimp house. This short commute to work is quite convenient for everyone, and especially so when we need to wander up at a moment’s notice and/or in the black of night.
I was making one such journey on Thursday, outfitted in pajamas and a coat, with the stars providing meager illumination. About halfway up the driveway, I stopped to confirm that the sound I heard in the bush was just the scuttling of deer, at which point I realized that in addition to my sleepwear I was also wearing slippers, which had not been my intention.
Squinting through the dark down towards my feet, I took a minute to internally debate whether to turn back to put on more appropriate footwear. In the end I talked myself into continuing onward clad in house shoes because, I reasoned, I was already nearly halfway to the chimp house and the slippers had a decent-enough sole on them anyway.
I entered the chimp house and prepared Burrito’s medication. By this point in the week all of the chimpanzees had become accustomed to the humans constant hovering over Burrito or late-night visits that included turning on lights and offering him food.
Despite these unusual disruptions, most of the chimps consistently remained silent in their nests without stirring. Even ever-vigilant Jamie has occasionally let these untoward visits take place without comment. Thursday, however, after I had given Burrito his pain-relieving treat, Jamie presented herself at the doors to the playroom, banging on the mesh to get my attention.
Jamie, to be sure, is keeping an internal tally of all of the treats that Burrito has been receiving. She has brought to our attention the inequity of treat distribution on occasion this past week, though for the most part she seems begrudgingly understanding. I thought the message that she wanted to communicate to me in that moment had to do with this clear favortism, perhaps hoping to persuade me to slip her a treat as well.
Then I noticed that her eye gaze was fixed upon my feet.
Of course! Jamie had not seen me wearing slippers before. She wanted a closer look, inside and out, of my atypical foot covering. I happily obliged, letting her feel the fabric too.
Satisfied, Jamie returned to her bed. I checked in on Burrito once again, turned off the lights, locked up, and made my way back down to the human house to settle into my own nest.
If you don’t know, Jamie is obsessed with shoes. She particularly likes cowboy boots. Here are a few photos from over the years: