Yesterday’s big milestone came as a surprise to us all.
If you have not yet read Diana’s descriptive account of the shocking event, you can do so by looking at yesterday afternoon’s blog post. For those of you who are wary of hyperlinks (or just too lazy to open up another tab in your browser), I’ll give you the CliffsNotes summary: Negra exceeded all of our expectations by climbing higher than ever before… in pursuit of a pineapple top.
Today, we decided to set up another outdoor forage to provide afternoon enrichment for the chimps. Of course, we had to put another pineapple top on the highest lookout just in case Negra was feeling adventurous again.
Spoiler: She was not.
The Red Sox don’t always beat the Yankees, the Starks don’t always defeat the Lannisters, and Negra doesn’t always want to go outside.
In today’s case, Negra did not spend the afternoon roaming around the grassy hillside in search of food. She didn’t even spend much time outside. In fact, she only went out for a few seconds, grabbed the closest mouthful of leeks, and retired back to the warm indoor areas where she spent the rest of the day napping alone in a pile of fleece blankets.
Naturally, Neggie did not need to do anything differently. I needed to fix my expectations.
As J.B. eloquently mused in Friday’s blog post, it’s easy for people who work with captive wildlife to only tell the stories that fit a certain narrative and skew public perception. To combat this, we can strive to tell “the best obtainable version of the truth.” To best appreciate yesterday’s triumph, it helps to understand some simple facts about Negra that may provide some valuable context.
As far as I can tell, singular moments of curiosity and bravery are rare for Negra. Instead of the grassy outdoor habitat, Neggie usually prefers the familiarity and security of indoor enclosures. In particular, her individual well-being seems inextricably tied to the comfort of the heated loft and the reliable provision of staple foods. During today’s breakfast service, for example, she declined fresh apple slices in favor of the bland, processed chow that she gets at every meal. She chose to savor every little piece while sitting on the plain bench in Front Room 4, all while looking out at the forested surroundings through steel caging and fogged glass.
Yesterday’s unexpected journey seemed to have satisfied Negra’s modest appetite for new experiences, but it perhaps had a greater effect on the staff. I think Diana may have captioned this story the best: “This is going to take me well into 2021.”
Today, of course, Negra resumed her normal pattern of sticking to the safer options. She napped, snacked, and snuggled up indoors as if nothing exciting had happened yesterday. Apart from her half-hearted foray onto the Hill to scoop up some leeks, she ensured that today was remarkably unremarkable.
That’s just fine with us. We’ll continue to celebrate her regardless.