Jamie is a chimpanzee who does not hide anything. She’s not shy. This was evident even the first time we met her at Buckshire before her group of seven came to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest.
She doesn’t hold back when she has an opinion about something. She can be challenging (she’s the only chimpanzee at the sanctuary who throws feces, for example), but we all appreciate that she is not only able to express herself, but feels quite comfortable letting the humans know if she wants something or is displeased with us. When she likes something she REALLY likes it, and it’s a joy finding those things (like boot books), and being able to enrich her life in very specific-to-her ways.
Here’s a photo I took of the boss today:
Gordo, on the other hand, has been very aloof so far.
He arrived just one month ago from Wildlife Waystation, and we are still getting to know him and the other five in his group. We were told that he takes some time to warm up to new people, and so far he’s definitely the least interactive with the caregivers.
The other two males in his group, Terry and Cy, are usually front and center and wanting to play chase. Upon seeing the caregivers, Lucky will present her belly for rubs, Dora likes gentle games where she touches the back of our hands with her outstretched fingers, and Rayne is showing herself to be a fun-loving friend.
Gordo is very interested in food, so when serving meals has been the main opportunity to interact with him. He will take food from us without hesitation, but it’s normally a very one-way transactional interaction.
I feel no shame in admitting that I have been on a mission to win over Gordo. I make eye contact with him (eye contact with chimps is a good thing, though that’s not the case with some other primate species) and attempt to instigate games of chase whenever I can. Most captive chimpanzees, particularly males, really like to play chase.
Often, Gordo is against a wall in one of the new playrooms or in a doorway, observing at a distance. The photo below isn’t very good, but it shows Gordo in one of his spots with one leg crossed over the other – this, along with the full splay, is a classic Gordo pose.
I’ve noticed that he’s also been hanging out in the corner of the far greenhouse. Whenever I pass by, I stop to talk to him for a bit. Often I don’t get much of a response.
I was beginning to wonder if I was perhaps coming on too strong, when, last Saturday, Gordo did grant me a game of chase. It was wonderful. And brief.
Today, Kelsi and I were being goofy with the whole group, and Gordo joined in the fun! I don’t know if you can tell how elated Kelsi was in these photos, but let’s just say she’ll be riding this high for awhile.
When he was done playing with Kelsi, I caught his eye and went out to the greenhouse hallway. To my great surprise, he walked towards me. On purpose! And I didn’t have food!
It was a great moment to kick off my weekend.
Thank you, Gordito.