I stand by Katelyn’s post from the summer that there is no doubt that Honey B is her own unique person, quite separate from her biological history of having been born to Missy. But just as time shows us her own special uniqueness, new similarities between mom and daughter have also revealed themselves.
These two formidable and intelligent beings were tragically separated from one another at the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP), shortly after Honey B was born on June 11, 1989.
Missy was forced to continue her life of servitude as a laboratory test subject and breeder and Honey B went to the lab’s “nursery” where she was raised by humans in preparation for the same future. Unlike many other chimpanzees at LEMSIP who moved to a notorious laboratory in New Mexico called the Coulston Foundation, Honey B escaped that future when she and dozens of other young chimpanzees were moved to Wildlife Waystation in California as LEMSIP closed permanently.
Missy and Honey B were only reunited here at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest 30 years after their separation.
As Katelyn mentioned in her post, there were no signs of particular recognition or even fondness between the pair when they met face to face before we abandoned the introductions of the two groups last fall.
Though they do not share the same rooms or have close interactions with one another, they do still see each other every day.
Just today, I spied Missy in a window of the playroom spying on her daughter as Honey B snacked on some lettuce in the Chute.
To be clear, there are shared preferences, quirks, and other similarities among some of the unrelated chimpanzees (the stand-out example is both Honey B and Annie wearing stretchy headbands around their waists), so who’s to say if the similarities between Missy and Honey B are inherited or simply coincidental. If you’ve ever taken a psychology or biology class or just on your own pondered the “nature vs nurture” question, you know the answer is almost always “both”.
Yet, it’s fun to consider that some of these traits just might have an element of heredity to them.
Similarities were brought up by other staff earlier this week, so it seemed a good time to reflect on what I’ve noticed that seem to characterize both mom and daughter.
Kelsi’s and Chad’s posts earlier this week that included the videos below clearly showed that Honey B and Missy are both quite quick on their feet and run for sheer enjoyment. That is not really the case for the majority of the other chimps.
It’s not just running that defines their love of movement. On any given day we see both of them climbing, swinging, leaping, and balancing.
This was again inspired by a post earlier this week, this time Anna’s. Check out Missy’s ghost play with Annie from a few years ago compared to Honey B playing with Mave this week in the two videos below:
Playing Ghost is not specific to Honey B and Missy. Notably, Jamie sometimes ghosts around too:
Even when by themselves, Honey B and Missy seem to enjoy their version of ghosting.
A Love of Tomatoes
If Missy could have one food for every meal for the rest of her life, that food would be tomatoes. I have never known another chimpanzee to like tomatoes with the sincerity and fervor of Missy.
Honey B, however, comes a close second, though she is pickier about the quality.
Perhaps this goes along with athleticism? I’m really not sure. Either way, both mom and offspring seem to like being inverted, both during play and sometimes when making a nest.
The photo above of Missy comes from a blog post that I wrote over ten years ago. For some reason I remember putting it together like it was yesterday.
The photo of Missy above with a sock on her arm is from the first month that the seven arrived at the sanctuary. You can still see Missy’s shaved belly from the medically indicated hysterectomy she had before coming here. Our photography equipment and file saving procedures were in their infancy – that’s why I couldn’t find a larger photo.
To be fair, Mave and Jody are also pretty into socks:
Jody’s style is to wear the sock just over her toes
I was reminded of one other similarity today as I was shifting the chimpanzees during meals to make it safe for us to enter a space for cleaning; if you were a betting person and you had to bet on which chimpanzee in each group would hold up shifting, it would be very safe to put your money on Missy and Honey B (Willy B’s more recent bout of rebellion notwithstanding). Missy is generally the last person in her group to leave a space and the least motivated by food. Her daughter? Pretty much the same.