Even if we were able to explain to the chimpanzees that we thought it would be best for them to keep their distance from one another, I guarantee they would not be compliant. Chimpanzees are in each other’s personal space constantly.
When they are grooming, it can be difficult to see where one chimp begins and the other ends, like Burrito grooming Foxie’s back today:
Even chimpanzees who are more human-focused frequently want physical contact with their caregivers. We’re strict about safety and never want to put ourselves in the position of being harmed by a chimpanzee. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re even more strict as we protect them as much as we can from potentially picking up any viruses from us.
Jamie can still find ways to groom us, or more accurately, groom “her” boots.
As for isolation, chimpanzees don’t take to it very well.
When Burrito was in his long recovery a few months ago, he actually did remarkably well. It helped that he still had contact with his chimpanzee and human companions through the fencing every day and he was able to watch the group to keep tabs on what they were up to. I think he discovered some benefits to being alone, such as midnight bagel deliveries and not having to deal with other chimps during mealtimes. Still, he was more than ready to go back with his group.
Jody has been isolated from her group for the last few days while she recovers from her foot procedure. She too can interact with the other chimpanzees and the humans through the caging, but she’s less comfortable than Burrito with this temporary separation.
I’m sure many of you can relate right now as you isolate alone or with your family.
One of Jody’s favored activities is nesting, so we are providing lots and lots of blankets for her. She, in turn, is ripping up those blankets to create even better nests.
Today Kelsi put a big pile of blanket strips that Jody created in a laundry basket and we put it in front of Jody’s room so she could pick them out herself.
We’re trying to keep her busy, and maybe she’s learning that it’s okay being a spectator instead of in the mix with the other chimpanzees once in a while too:
I heard someone describe this period the world is going through right now as everyone isolated alone, together. We’re glad to be a part of your together.