Miss Honey B (amazing photo generously shared by Chad!):
When Honey B first arrived it was hard not to hold onto the anticipation of her meeting her mother, Missy, for the first time since she was mere hours old to the world. As you may recall, they were separated within hours of Honey B’s birth in the lab. We often shared that it would be highly unlikely they’d remember one another. But we all hoped they would eventually grow to have a wonderful relationship of their choosing.
But to be honest, back when we were attempting to integrate Honey B, Willy B and Mave with the seven, Missy and Honey B weren’t too keen on one another or their new found circumstances. At all. Missy became an uncharacteristic ship lost at sea without her familiar harbor of Jamie (who hadn’t yet been introduced into the equation at the time). I remember her once anchored to a corner of the catwalk in the playroom, Annie tucked behind her with her head resting in dismay on Missy’s shoulder as they looked out with uncertainty over what must have felt like stormy seas. On the other side of the playroom, Honey B seemed to vacillate between rocking anxiously in the corner, and randomly launching provocations and attacks upon her new roommates, seemingly in a get-them-before-they-get-you tactic at self-preservation in a flood of sudden changes with what probably felt like no life raft. But outside of a few hopeful, immensely endearing interactions, Missy and Honey B largely avoided one another during their brief time together. And that’s okay. It was their choice and their comfort level. After all, they were strangers to one another. And that seems like yet another lifetime in some ways.
Honey B’s been here, along with Willy B and Mave, for going on ten months now and she’s an entirely different person. The “Californians” as they’re sometimes known, by all measures seem to be growing in leaps and bounds in comfort, joy and courage, settling more and more into their lives here, as well as showing us more and more of their amazing personalities with each passing day. I recently realized how much I used to think of her in terms of being Missy’s daughter. She’s kind of a longer, stretched out version of Missy (who has an amazingly compact and athletic little bod). And as you’ve probably gathered by now, they are both extremely intelligent and definitely share their skills of athleticism. Though when Honey is sitting just so, oh she looks like her mama. But really, they aren’t particularly similar to one another personality wise. And while Honey is her mother’s daughter, if you only see her through that wonderful aspect, or scenarios that are emotionally appealing to us, it’s faulty metaphor that risks eclipsing the incredible light she is. Because Honey B is entirely and magnificently her own amazing person. Honey is unique, intense, quirky, creative, surprising, highly intelligent and entirely endearing. She delights us on the daily.
And is nearly impossible for me to get a photo of because she immediately wants to get up close and personal (just another of her delightful qualities):
Not long after the start of the pandemic and our increased safety and health protocols for wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in the chimp house, Chad observed Honey B with a gift bag covering her mouth and the handles looped over her ears. She loves (in a very uncharacteristically chimpanzee way) to offer her food to share with her caregivers. Lately, she’s been trying patiently to teach us how to groom her “properly” by demonstrating and then passing us the grooming tool. If we don’t do it to her liking, she gently asks for the tool back, demonstrates again, and then returns the tool to us to try again. She loves to play wild games of chase, scoot (or skateboard) through her home on her scooter, flail about madly in heaps of paper, toss her enrichment items through doorways with wild abandon, and wear things around her waist like, aprons, blankets sarong-style, waist bands Annie-style, and fanny packs, purely Honey B-style. One of her favorites has been a sky-blue fanny pack with narwhals on it. Narwhals! I’m pretty sure she is going to single-handedly bring back the fanny pack.
This Thursday we get to celebrate Honey B’s first birthday here at the sanctuary. She’s going to be 31. How we ever got so lucky to have her here with us I’ll never know. We feel that way about Mave and Willy B, and well, each of the chimps of course, but I’m thinking of Honey B just now. What cosmic cards were dealt all these many years later that brought her here, of all places? Who knows. And my heart twinges at the thought of the wonderful caregivers whose hearts had to watch her go, who cared for her for so many years, who love her. I know she’s missed. How could she not be? An immensely special place has blossomed in my heart for Honey B. Because she’s Missy’s daughter and I love her momma so much. But increasingly so, so much so, because she is Honey B. Her own incredible chimpanzee person. I just love her and I’m so glad we get the privilege of knowing her.
And if you haven’t had a chance to check out all of the amazing items we have listed for our online auction and our first ever virtual celebration (in part) of Negra and Honey B’s birthdays, The Queen’s Brunch, you can head over tout de suite and see this endearing portrait of Honey B by Margaret Parkinson.
A goodnight smooch from Honey B, herself: