Honey B is anything but shy.
This bright, enigmatic chimp seemed to arrive at the sanctuary with one setting: investigate.
For example, Honey B constantly inspects human personnel for new cuts, scrapes, bruises, hangnails, freckles, accessories and even tattoos, which she then insists on eagerly grooming. Her first reaction to new volunteers is to spit water on them, measure their reaction, and then stare at them as if they were a peculiar piece of art in a museum. This not-so-warm welcome seems to make people feel a bit uneasy at first. To quote volunteer Becca’s reaction after meeting Honey B last fall, “I feel like she knows my SAT scores.”
Honey B tends to be the first chimpanzee to enter new areas after they have been cleaned and provisioned with enrichment materials, and she was the first to figure out the drinking fountains in her new home. Even when meeting new chimps, her strategy seemed built around a framework of testing boundaries and pushing buttons. Curiosity may proverbially kill felines but it somehow hasn’t gotten Honey B yet.
Her apparent rule that everything needs to be investigated in depth also applies to cameras and phones. While other chimps may be more curious about the reflective camera lens (like Willy B) or nervous about having their photo taken (like Mave), Honey B seems intent on somehow obtaining the camera. Her immediate reaction is to charge forward, get as close to the camera as possible, and ask the caregivers to let her groom the camera body. On rare occasions, she has asked me to drop a camera or phone in the food chute (which is not going to happen). We can only imagine what she would do with a camera, but it’s not impossible that she would actually attempt to take photographs with it. She’s learned how to clean by observing humans, so maybe the visual arts are next.
This tendency of hers to hover by the camera makes capturing portraits of her a challenge. Today, I got lucky. When I unlocked the wing of the building where Honey B and her two companions now reside, the three of them were sitting by the window in a beam of morning sunlight. I coincidentally had the camera by my side (armed with a groovy Canon lens that was generously donated by a supporter who saw it on our Wish List), making it a truly serendipitous moment. Honey B held still for a quick photo shoot as Mave lazily picked through her hair and groomed her shoulder. Perhaps I have Mave to thank for that whole moment.
Anyway, you’re all being treated to a rare portrait of Honey B as the cornerstone of today’s blog post. Enjoy.