Today was the day. It happens each year around this time.
I would have placed a bet on it happening last week, but Negra, the Queen of the sanctuary, operates on her own timeline.
Jamie was grooming my boots in the greenhouse (me safely on the human side of the fencing, of course).
As Jamie was brushing and poking at the boots on my feet, I saw Negra go from the greenhouse through the raceway to Young’s Hill. There were no other chimpanzees out there and we hadn’t set out a forage, so something else was motivating Negra.
I politely excused myself from my grooming session with Jamie and went around the corner.
I found Negra, with her back to me, sitting just feet from the end of the raceway. She sat there for what seemed like five minutes, looking around silently. It was like she had just discovered it was spring. And maybe she had. Queen Negra is not one to savor the outdoors unless the conditions are just right. She prefers to lounge in her blanket nests and pass the time in leisure. But there was something about today that drew Negra outside.
Foxie was curious about Negra’s solo journey outside and watched from the greenhouse.
I realized at one point that I was holding my breath in anticipation, wondering if this was going to be the true day of emergence.
As she continued to just sit and look around, I thought to myself, “well, I guess this isn’t the day after all.”
And then it happened. She picked some grass, smelled it, and then began eating.
Then she walked further away from the greenhouse and sampled more:
Next she headed to the “cabin” we built just for her, where she tried some grass growing inside the structure:
Satisfied but still exploring, she wandered some more:
She found a little patch of dandelions and partook in a few.
That was apparently enough for day one, as she then headed back into the playroom to rest up until her next foray.
Happy Queen’s Emergence Day, everyone!
Actually, that is a good segue into a day for the queen that is in the works. June 13th is a very special day. It marks the 12-year anniversary of the arrival of the original seven chimpanzees to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest and the day that we will be celebrating Negra’s 47th birthday. We were going to have our annual gala event in Seattle on that day, but the pandemic caused us to shift our plans.
We are still hoping to have the in-person event on September 18th (fingers crossed), but we didn’t want the significant June 13th party to pass by, so we will be doing our first ever virtual event!
We have a lot of fun things in store for you all. Below is a teaser.