There were a couple of questions recently about Annie and Missy and if they knew each other before arriving to the sanctuary. Yes, they did! Before coming to the sanctuary, the seven were in the custody of the Buckshire Corporation, a facility in Pennsylvania that leases (they are still in business) animals to labs across the country for biomedical research. If you’re new to the blog, you may not be aware that the seven were used in biomedical research for thirty years prior to being retired here. At the time CSNW learned of the seven they were the last remaining chimpanzees at Buckshire and no longer being used in research; however, they had been housed together in a windowless basement for a couple of years, that we know of.
Though their cages were all lined up in a row next to one another, they didn’t all share an enclosure together until toward the end of their stay there. When space requirements for chimpanzees living in captivity changed, the facility determined they could meet the requirement by just opening the doors between the cages as opposed to building a new and larger enclosure for them. So, long story still somewhat long, when Annie, Missy, Jamie, Foxie, Burrito, Negra and Jody arrived (and yes, they all arrived with their names) at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, they’d already been living together and had had the time to work out their hierarchical structure and relationships to some degree. Which definitely made things easier for all involved!
Annie and Missy have been best friends for as long as we’ve known them. Missy is more confident and she is a master at chimpanzee politics. She knows exactly what she needs to do to stay on the boss’s good side, while still managing to covertly get what she wants, or when it’s just best to just move on. She’s also much more comfortable interacting with the other chimps. While Annie is considered the least dominant in the group (though her wonderful independence and moxie grows by the day), this holds true in her relationship with Missy as well.
Though they are very close, Missy has no problem pulling rank on Annie if she is so inclined, which typically involves food. For example, someone also asked about serving order within the group, particularly with these two as they had heard one of us in a video ask Missy if it was okay to serve Annie first. So yes, as far as the group goes, being the self-appointed boss, we typically offer Jamie her servings first. (With Willy B, Honey B and Mave, it’s Willy B who is usually served first). After Jamie, we might offer Missy and Jody their servings next and just kind of work our way along to Annie. I feel like over the years as the chimpanzees learned to trust that we understand the “rules” and have grown and developed their own relationships, it’s a little more relaxed, generally speaking. Jamie is still typically first, but it’s often the squeaky, raspberry-blowing, cage-banging, wheel who is next in line. Or the person who follows the server up and down the line, discreetly sticking their hand through the crowd (Annie is very good at this!). And I often find if I simply ask a more dominant chimpanzee if I can serve someone else first, they’re typically okay with it at this point. If they aren’t, they will absolutely let us know!
And where this probably happens the most often is with Missy and Annie. Missy often has eagle eyes on Annie at mealtimes and Annie is acutely aware of this. Being the least dominant, she will commonly look around before taking her serving to make sure it’s okay with the group. Missy can be calmly eating her serving all the while staring, unflinchingly at Annie. Sometimes it stops there, other times, if she feels the need to exert her dominance for whatever reason, all she has to do is grunt at Annie and that’s it, Annie will wait until Missy approves, or the coast is clear. And other times a screaming match ensues and Missy steps in to take Annie’s serving. (But don’t feel too bad for her, she’s excellent at boldly taking food from others if she has the chance!).
Why just yesterday I stood at the play room door watching Annie as she sat quietly on the steps looking around during a forage. Missy was sitting upstairs on the catwalk just above Annie, enjoying her food puzzle. Annie picked up what couldn’t have been anything more than a nutshell and BOOM! Missy screamed like a banshee and get this, took a flying leap off the catwalk into mid-air (picture my eyes bugging out of my head here) and for a nano second I thought she was going to catapult herself onto Annie, but she landed just above her on the stair railing! Annie screamed at the top of her lungs (who could blame her?) and fear-grimacing (this looks like a human smile with top and bottom teeth showing, but demonstrates fear or high-arousal), held her hand out to Missy in a submissive gesture for reassurance. Missy was seemingly satisfied that she’d put the fear of well, herself, into Annie and that her message had been received and then all was well. Nobody said the life of a chimpanzee is anything less than complicated. But, the same goes for humans, after all, if not more so.
While this might sound terrible to us, this is completely normal behavior for chimpanzees and an important part of their social structure. Of course, we always make sure that everyone gets enough food, but even as servers it’s important to respect their rules and follow their leads. It’s their business, not ours, and it’s imperative they work things out between themselves because they have to live together.
But that’s just one example of chimpanzee society and one aspect of Annie and Missy’s relationship. Annie and Missy spend most of their time by far, playing the most joyous, raucous games of chase, or relaxed, slow-motion wrestle while resting next to each other, or just enjoying one another’s company. They tend to build their night nests next to one another, sometimes even into a figure eight. If there’s a fight, Annie is the first to have Missy’s back, always. She is the most loyal friend you could ask for. Unfortunately, the same can’t always be said in the reverse, but Missy is where Annie runs for reassurance which she almost always receives. For the most part, where you find one, you will endearingly find the other.
Here are two more peas in a pod spotted on Young’s Hill today, captured by Chad. Good friends, Burrito and Foxie:
As another example of how complicated chimp society can be, that cute little half ear that Foxie is sporting is a result of her dear friend there, Burrito, having bitten it off in a fight awhile ago. And yet, while we humans looked on in horror and concern, within minutes Foxie and Burrito were calmly grooming one another and making amends. While I can’t say I’d care to have my ear bitten off, one of the things I envy about chimps is how they don’t hesitate to express themselves, but then they move on.
At one point, Foxie decided she and Orange Blossom were ready to move along and head up the hill. But this guy was just sitting in the path, totally unconcerned about being in the way! Now obviously Foxie couldn’t be asked to just step off the beaten path, into the pokey grass and around this guy. But that would never stop Foxie! We watched her literally climb OVER Burrito and then carry on her way:
Pretty pleased with herself:
Inside scoop: Though the chimpanzees arrived with their names, did you know that Burrito was originally called, Raj? While we have no idea how he wound up with the name Burrito, I don’t think any of us could imagine calling him Raj.
Well, we’re sure grateful for all of you out there. I’m not sure we could ever express just how much. Regardless of what this holiday week holds for you, may you find a little joy and ease, a little beauty and grace to keep your hearts buoyed and light. If even for a minute. Nurture your joy. Just as you help make possible in the chimpanzees’ lives.
I know well that chimpanzees are not hairier versions of human primates, and as such I am reluctant to political statement of the sort which is only applicable to humans. Even so, I have regarded the love which Annie and Missy share with each other as little short of divine. They chase each other, they wrestle, they nest aside each other, and when the going gets tough, Annie always has Missy’s back…which is very considerate of Annie given the length of Missy’s neck.
The Caregivers are outdoing themselves lately with blog posts! This was a fascinating read – thank you! Raj? no way! He’s Mr B! xo
Thank you so much for your wonderful blog. I look forward to it every day to learn more about the amazing chimps and sanctuary. Getting to know the caregivers this way makes it so clear what a tremendous blessing you all are to the chimps, and vice-versa. Thank you for giving the chimps the best life possible! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Katelyn, Is Buckshire Corp still leasing chimpanzees? I don’t know where I got the idea that chimpanzees were no longer used for research. Am I mistaken?
Considering all the ten have endured, I’m surprised there aren’t more psychological issues. Thank goodness for retirement at camp CSNW.
I wish I had a friend as loyal as Annie.
Linda C says
I think she said they still lease “animals”, and that the 7 were the last chimps
Hi Chris, no, the seven were the last chimpanzees that Buckshire had in their custody, though they still lease a variety of other animals for research. And you’re correct, in 2010, the National Institute of Health (NIH) commissioned a study by the Institute of Medicine to determine the continued need and efficacy of using chimpanzees in biomedical research which resulted in the 2011 recommendation to end their use. NIH accepted these recommendations and began phasing out the use of chimpanzees in 2013 and ended their use in 2015. An incredible outcome none of us in the field expected to see in our lifetimes, really. Unfortunately, that was only half the battle, as it’s taking extensive time and resources to get all of the both federally and privately “owned” lab chimpanzees into sanctuaries, all of whom are at capacity and working hard to fundraise for expansion while those who still remain housed in labs await space. Additionally, there is a group of federally “owned” chimpanzees remaining at Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico who were determined “ineligible” for transfer to sanctuary due the NIH’s decision that it would be too risky to move them based on their age and/or health issues. You can learn more about those chimpanzees and the efforts in support of their retirement to accredited sanctuaries through Animal Protection of New Mexico and a recent discussion which Diana, our co-director, participated in here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftZxqNkqU1g&feature=youtu.be
Dear Katelyn, thank you so very much for answering my questions in this wonderful blog; you do have a way with words and storytelling (as I always notice in the “happy birthday/remembering” blogs you write).
I sure am glad my BFF does not bite off a piece of my ear, or puts me in my place during dinnertime…..
And the smile on Foxies face after the clime-over of Burrito ( Raj ????the person who gave him that name obviously did NOT know him!), is priceless.
Untill recently the blog was only available to me every couple of days ( don’t ask me why ) but I am so happy to read the blog now every day; the internetgods have decided that I was worthy Hallelujah!!
You’re most welcome, Marianne, and thank you for your kind words. While I sometimes could see the beauty of being able to bite someone, neither would I appreciate it in return. 😉 Thanks so much for being here with us and following along with the chimps’ lives! We so appreciate it! And glad the internet gods came through! 🙂
Elaine Reininger says
Really enjoyed this most interesting post and accompanying pictures. I marvel how you all come up with a theme to write about, so creative and so well-written. Don’t you ever get writers block?
Oh, I’d say we do at times, Elaine. 🙂 But really, I suspect most of us could speak until we’re blue in the face about these amazing individuals. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, the challenge is more often finding the time I’d like, or having “the forces align” to write about what I have in mind. But even then, the chimpanzees provide endless awe and wonder, we just have to pay attention. Thanks for always following along!
You are the best way to start my day. Thank you so much! I wondered about the “ear” and thought it must have been a fight but it was good to understand what happened …I wish I could be as forgiving. I’m still new enough I can’t yet tell the difference between the chimps so I appreciate that you always identify them. I’ve learned so much in such a fun way. Is it best if there is always a male in every group and does having 2 males in a group increase tensions?
Thanks for following the chimpanzees, Sue! There isn’t exactly a black and white answer to your question, but bear with me while I attempt to give you a somewhat condensed version. 🙂 In the wild, chimpanzees live in groups of anywhere from a couple of dozen to over 200 individuals, within a social structure referred to as a “fission-fusion” society. A “fission-fusion” system allows for a more fluid dynamic in which they can temporarily break into smaller groups in response to available resources, while maintaining in part, the safety provided by the umbrella of the larger group. As you might imagine, chimpanzee society is highly dynamic, always changing in response to numerous factors such as available food sources, sexually mature females, aging alpha males being challenged and eventually replaced by younger males, changing alliances, and so on. Male chimpanzees remain in their natal groups for life and form very strong bonds with one another (whereas young females will often leave when they reach sexual maturity to seek out other groups). It’s the males who serve the role of alpha (though in captivity it’s not uncommon to occasionally see this role being played by a female, for example, Jamie). And it’s typically the males who patrol their territory together to protect the troop and their available resources from “invaders.” Of course, chimpanzees living in captivity don’t have these options. All chimpanzees are hard-wired to depend on the fabric of their social bonds for their very well-being and survival. This is one reason, among so many, why the pet, entertainment and biomedical research industries are so detrimental to their well-being. They are forced to live entirely unnatural lives that go against their very biological and evolutionary make-up. And typically being taken from their mothers at birth and prevented from living in natural social structures, leaves captive chimps at a huge deficit of not having had the opportunity to gain important chimp social skills. Even the best facilities, with experienced professionals who understand chimpanzee social structure and individual needs, face constant challenges when working to help provide the chimpanzees with options to form, and integrate into, social groups. With humans in the mix, at it’s best, it’s still ultimately an unnatural process. It’s one more area that even with the best of intentions, knowledge, experience and collaboration, all with the single goal to provide the chimpanzees in our care with the best possible lives, we’re really stepping in where we don’t belong. Chimpanzees don’t belong in captivity and nothing can replicate what their natural lives would be (or should have been) in the wild. But for chimpanzees whose only choice is a lifetime in captivity, their social bonds with other chimpanzees are just as, if not more, imperative to their well-being as their wild counterparts. And ultimately, they are of course individuals with their own histories, strengths and challenges, so humans can only facilitate so much. This was painfully evident in our attempts to integrate the three with the seven last year, which ended unsuccessfully. So in partial response to your question, the healthiest society for a chimpanzee to live in is one in which there are a variety of individuals to interact and bond with, both male and female. And yes, part of chimpanzee society is navigating tensions in the group, always. This is where a good leader with a solid understanding of chimpanzee politics comes in! Not at all easy for human-raised chimpanzees! And if they have the personality and skills to lead in a cohesive and relatively calm manner, working through respect gained by creating and maintaining their alliances (as opposed to our beloved Jamie who tends to weld her power with an authoritarian and intimidating hand 🙂 ) even better! Given the enormous and unfair hurdles chimps in captivity face, I find it a continuous miracle that when provided with species-specific care and dignity, love, time and space, chimps can still find it within themselves to be resilient and thrive, doing their best to create new, natural-to-them lives, in an entirely unnatural environment.
We human primates could surely make the world a better place if would follow the chimp’s example of political negotiations!
cheryl McGrew says
Nice to know the ranking order for food. Good post and great pics! Thank you
Stevie Gillis says
What a fantastic blog! Extremely informative. Very interesting. I am ordering the book “Chimpanzee politics bc it’s so interesting to me. We could all learn from these beautiful souls!
That’s a great book! I meant to note it and forgot. 🙂
Yes, an excellent read, enjoy it Stevie! I fell in love with Mama chimpanzee. I am a sucker for some of the matriarch women like Mama, Flo, Dorthy, and Neggie.
Beverly Donovan says
I so enjoy reading all the blogs that are posted each day. Been following the chimpanzees ever since KOMO did a news cast on them in 2008. Keep up your great work on all the animals at the sanctuary.
Linda C says
Thanks, Katelyn. You already know I really appreciate your writing skills…that’s exactly why you do those birthday and memorial announcements!
Sigh….hearing that Mr B’s original name was “Raj”….:(. Giving animals (and people) Hindu names…are my Spidey senses picking up on something here?
Also, I hope you’re able to do a Thanksgiving video! 2018’s still brings me joy!
Hi Linda, I updated Burrito’s name history in a comment to Kathleen. “Raj” was actually the name given to him in the lab, where he was born. It changed after his transfer to Buckshire while he was living in a home with humans who worked there.
The chimpanzees always give us something to look forward to, don’t they? 🙂
I guess no relationship is blissfully perfect all the time, not even Foxie and her dolls. ; ) Annie and Missy’s friendship always warms my heart, especially when I see photos of their quiet moments together just hanging out on Young’s Hill, taking in the fresh air and the view. Your photos of these two peas in a pod today are so perfect. Sigh. Clearly Annie accepts the friendship terms Missy sets, it works for them and I guess that’s what matters.
Foxie climbing over her BFF Burrito is a crack up. I mean look at Burrito, he’s just sitting there (and you know he knows that Foxie hates that pokey, pointy tall grass!) rubbing his eye, picking his teeth, totally nonchalant. (such a guy!) But little Foxie solves the problem and gets to where she wants to be (pure female ingenuity!).
So did the name “Raj” came from his early days before Buckshire? Raj?! Really?
Thanks Katelyn for writing this post, you could…should write a book sharing your love for these fascinating chimp people.
That’s for sure! Just the other day we were watching Foxie really waling on Orange Blossom when her little head suddenly flew into the air! 🙂
Your description of Burrito and Foxie is very funny and entirely accurate. A bit like Jody trying to get the pumpkin around him on Jamieween! I’m not sure at what exact point Burrito was “Raj”, but yes, he was taken from Buckshire as a child to briefly serve as a “pet”, and then subsequently used in a circus before eventually winding up back at Buckshire. So perhaps somewhere in that mix. And thanks for your kind words. 🙂
For some reason, like Linda hinted at, Raj sounds like his circus name. Egads. Saddens me to think of Burrito as a circus performer. Poor young boy to experience all that human craziness. But what a happy chap he is today!
I wonder if the people who forced Burrito to be an entertainer in the circus know that today, Burrito makes more people smile and laugh just being his silly-self than he did being tethered to his trainer forced to do stupid stunts in a circus? You go Burrito, we see you. And we love you.
Okay, I just backtracked a bit and Burrito was actually named “Raj” at White Sands Research Center when he was born (and where he was subsequently used in hepatitis B vaccine safety trials prior to even being 2 years old. He was transferred to Buckshire at the age of three and it was during his time living in a home with humans (Buckshire staff) that his name changed to Burrito.
Such a thoughtful point. Isn’t it the biggest privilege and joy to know and love him just for being his amazing self?
Wow, Katelyn. I didn’t realize or remember that Burrito was born at White Sands Research Center. I’m also a little surprised that Buckshire staff cross fostered the young chimps in their homes (seems like a conflict to me — let’s baby them and then let’s torture them). It’s been a while since I read each of the chimps full histories and my mind is now fuzzy on all the details so I dove into your past posts to refresh my memory. I came across “Burrito’s Story” written by Debbie in 2013. Seems so strange to me that a laboratory would lease out one of their chimpanzees for entertainment purposes. I also forgot that Burrito went to Jungle Larry, he joined them between 1987-1988. So I googled Jungle Larry and these dates. Found a link to “Jungle Larry & Safari Jane” website page titled “Jungle Comes to Naples”. I corresponds to the dates Burrito was part of the animal act. It notes “Jungle Larry Tetzlaff passed away in 1984” and there is a small photo of a young chimpanzee, wearing overalls, standing on the back of an elephant with lion next to him. I can’t help but wonder if that is our Burrito?! It could be him because the young chimps chin and upper lip are white like Mr. B’s. Unfortunately the photo is too small to confirm this, even when I open it up in Photoshop and zoom in on the image, it bitmaps so I can’t be certain. But the photo gives me pause none the less…..
Anyhow, from your 2013 post on Burrito’s story I could follow the daily thread for all the chimps histories. (include a very heavy sigh here). The stories and images from their first days are overwhelming. They are not the same chimpanzee people I see today. What magical powers sanctuary life brings to each of them.
Fantastic post Katelyn… Thank you for the keen observations and clear reminders of how “normal” in a chimps world sometimes seems odd viewed through the lens of us humans…. They have a social structure that CSNW gives the opportunity to play out as close to their natural environment as possible for these wonderful chimp people.. thanks to all the wonderful human people at CSNW and those who support the amazing home that CSNW provides. It’s such a pleasure to tune in every day to see what is up at the home of the 10m- i agree that the posts lately have been over the top, outdoing yourselves. 🙂