Many thanks to Tobin, friend of the chimpanzees and bovines, and a name you may recognize here among the comments of our wonderful daily blog community, for sponsoring a day of sanctuary today!
“In honor of Burrito, as well as to commemorate my grandfather, Everett B. Jeffries, who was born on this day in 1897.
Five years ago at this time, despondent about the malevolent policies emanating from my nation’s leadership – and their deleterious efforts upon the ecosystem – I went online, looking for signs of resistance and hope. In my wandering, by some miracle I came upon a video which bore the caption: ‘Rescued Chimpanzee Plays with Caregiver.’
Cognizant of how endangered – and abused – great ape species are, I was not certain that I could bear to inquire into the context of this chimpanzee’s rescue from human mistreatment. And yet, I pressed the arrow on the computer screen onto the caption, and in an instant, my life changed. I had learned about a great spirit with the curious name of Burrito.
Like many human primates who encounter Burrito – either in person or through the medium of the internet – I was immediately smitten by him. I had to know more about this freckle-faced, wooden block-chewing, tug-of-war player. Soon I learned that this charming man resided with six other chimpanzees in the Cascade Mountains. As with Burrito, I reacted with awe at learning about his neighbors who had been rescued and given sanctuary in the Cascade foothills. For the next three months, I read everything that I could find about great apes.
Which leads me to my grandfather. The more photographs and videos that I saw of Burrito, the more he seemed to remind me of some human primate in my past. Learning that only 1.24% of genetic material – and five million years of evolutionary history – separate Pan troglodytes from Homo sapiens, I began to discern some remarkable similarities between my immediate ancestor and my distant cousin in the evolutionary tree.
Granted there are numerous contrasts between the two: unlike Burrito, my grandfather was not given to brachiating amongst the rafters of his barn. Likewise, he didn’t display at the Sunday dinner table (i.e. the video from 9.9.2018).
However, they share some commonalities: similar facial structures and hairstyles, a passion for fine dining (in particular, sweet potatoes and squash), and similar throaty laughs. Both Burrito and my grandfather lived and worked in rural environs and shared a household with strong-willed women (my grandmother and in Burrito’s case, Jamie).
Although the internet was not in wide-scale use during my grandfather’s lifetime, I have no doubt that he would have found the daily record of the sanctuary’s website a source of interest. And I am given to speculate, he would have viewed the video of 5.21.2017 and, watching Burrito and Annie play, recalled his courtship of my grandmother.”
We are so glad to know of the connection and joy Burrito and his friends and neighbors have brought to your life, Tobin! Thank you for sharing your heartfelt tribute to the unique being-ness of two special primates.
Jamie and Burrito:
Burrito and Annie: