As the newest staff member, I have spent the last four months building my relationships with the chimpanzees. I was fortunate enough to be a student intern here in 2019-2020 (up until the pandemic), which means I had previously met Jamie’s group, as well as Willy B, Honey B, and Mave when they were just a group of three. However, I was not trained to interact with the chimps as an intern, so all my relationships truly started when I joined as a staff member.
I do believe that knowing the dynamics of Jamie’s group previously, as well as having glimpses into the personalities of Willy B, Honey B, and Mave, has helped me transition into my role. Throughout my training and up until now, I have tried to be intentional with my time with the chimps. I want them to know I care and that they are my priority. I want them to know I am happy to be here. While some days cleaning takes up a lot of our time, every day matters to them. Even if I don’t spend quality time with each chimp every single day, showing up every day matters to them. Greeting them every morning and every time you see them matters. Every little thing I have done has helped and will continue to help build my relationship with each of the chimps.
I have had a few moments recently that meant a lot to me, so I captured a photo during/after with my phone.
For example, Missy is very particular with the humans she chooses to interact with. She would much rather spend time with her chimpanzee friends. The other day, I went out to the Greenhouse to play chase with Burrito and Missy was out there as well. She was looking out to Young’s Hill, appearing deep in thought. Out of nowhere, she flung her back around and pushed it up against the caging, which is a signal that she would like to be groomed. To say I was shocked was an understatement! This was the first time Missy had initiated an interaction with me. I took full advantage of the opportunity and groomed her back for several minutes. Burrito gave me a look like he knew it was unusual for Missy to interact with me and patiently waited until I was done before he started playing chase again.
I captured this photo with my phone after so I would never forget this moment.
Burrito and Missy:
On Tuesday, it was a rainy day and everyone was absolutely stoked about it. The cooler temperatures, even for just one day, are so appreciated this time of year. During the afternoon, I went on a walk around Young’s Hill with Burrito. When we reached the top, Burrito sat down and was taking in the view. Or maybe he was letting me catch my breath after the steep incline, we may never know. Either way, it was a beautiful moment I knew I wanted to capture, so I would never forget.
A few days ago, Foxie dropped her dolls down to me. These are two of her absolute favorite dolls out of her collection. As you can see, they’re her brand new birthday dolls! You can tell they’re new if they still have clothes on (her preference). Something inside of me feels extra special when Foxie gives me the things she loves the most. I quickly snapped this photo while Foxie was waiting for me to toss them back to her, while sitting up in the “Loft” of their Playroom. I didn’t want to forget this.
To be honest, there are so many moments working this job that are so special. I’m sure if we asked all caregivers out there, they would all have photos like these ones so that they don’t forget the special moments. And mine are just from the past week!
*Bonus photo of Rayne – Here is proof that Cy is not the only fan of magazines!*
Amy Bianco says
This was a beautiful blog. Your thoughts were so touching and heartfelt. It must be so difficult to not be able to hug and kiss and groom them without barriers, but we know it’s in their best interests. Thank you for your insight.
Linda C says
I agree, Jenna! Moments to remember…nice that Burrito’s playmate in chief has a backup!
Speaking of Burrito, no trouble at all guessing who is Jen F’s favorite chimp! :see_no_evil:
I like this blog post so much Jenna, very touching.
Sometimes we have moments that we know will forever be with us, its good to document them, but they will probably be with you always, even without your pictures…. In your heart.:revolving_hearts:
Oh Jenna, I feel as if I totally know how you feel. If I were fortunate enough to work at CSNW, I’d be taking photos to preserve my special moments too. What fun you must have looking through them afterwards. Your three “special moments” photos shown here are the best! So is your photo of Reading Rayne.
I envy you. What an incredible job you have. Thank you for being there. (It matters to me too.)
Thank you for these precious photos and comments. I just adore the chimps and love to hear about them as often as possible.