Yesterday was our second round of introductions at the sanctuary. Negra and Jamie were introduced to Honey B, Willy B and Mave (who have been living with Missy, Annie and Jody since last week). Just like all intros, this one was stressful for both the humans on the sidelines and the chimpanzees in the thick of things. Fortunately, we continue to see progress, as friendships are starting to develop between the Cle Elum 7 and the new 3 from California. We are currently up to 8 individuals in 1 group, with Foxie and Burrito waiting patiently together in the Phase 1 expansion for their turn to integrate into the larger group.
Arlene, a longtime supporter of the chimpanzees, sponsored today in honor of her husband Michael’s birthday. She also wrote this very sweet note to Michael on his special day:
“Today is my husband, Michael’s, birthday. Michael, I hope today brings you as much happiness as you bring to everyone else, each and every day. You are a wonderful, caring, person inside and out, and deserve nothing but the very best today and always. Love you.”
Arlene and Michael, thank you so much for choosing to celebrate your special days by supporting these amazing 10 chimpanzees.
I wanted to do a throwback today to a very special day at the sanctuary, the day the Cle Elum 7 got to go out on Young’s Hill for the very first time. Perhaps the best way to remember that day is to watch the KOMO News Story about the event. It’s amazing that the chimps first set foot on Young’s Hill in September 2011 (8 years ago!), because we hope that our new 3 residents will soon get to follow in their footsteps.
We are excited to announce that we are finishing up the final adjustments to Young’s Hill so that the outdoor chute that Honey B, Willy B and Mave currently occupy will now connect to the 2 acre outdoor enclosure. If all goes as planned, we are going to give the “new guys” access to the hill in the next couple of days and let them get this new experience under their belts before we start introductions of the 2 groups. It will be both exciting and a little scary, and perhaps exploration will come more naturally to some than others. We can’t wait for them to start enjoying this next part of their sanctuary!
As caregivers, we all love to write and talk about the best aspects of chimpanzees. We celebrate each chimpanzee that we know as an individual and of course cannot help but compare them to ourselves. Like humans, chimpanzees form deep friendships, they play and laugh, grieve their lost love ones and generally display the same wide range of emotions that we do. It’s no wonder that we all find them to be so deeply fascinating and relatable.
This brings me to today’s blog post, the other side of the chimpanzee “coin.” When we talk about both humans and chimpanzees, we cannot always separate out the good facets of our nature from the negative ones. The truth is, chimpanzees (like humans) fight. They have disagreements, hold grudges and can sometimes appear to be incredibly irrational to outside observers. They can also hurt each other (even those that they are incredibly close to). When we watch the chimpanzees fight and argue, we see them express themselves in the most intense and dramatic ways possible. They scream and they hit, they bite and they kick. Despite the perceived drama, most arguments at the sanctuary do not end with an injury. But sometimes they do. Yesterday, good friends Burrito and Foxie got into a fight. While the conflict was resolved relatively quickly, Foxie lost a large part of cartilage from her left ear. Luckily, the injury appears clean and she doesn’t seem to be particularly upset by the loss (chimps are TOUGH). Apart from some pain and swelling management (using oral medications), we shouldn’t need to do any medical intervention. As you might imagine, Foxie does look a little different now.
Quick fights that end with injuries like these ones are also great reminders of why chimpanzees make terrible pets and why humans never go in the enclosures with the chimps. They’re also great reminders of how forgiving chimps can be. Yesterday, Diana spotted Foxie and Burrito grooming together probably 10 minutes after the fight was over.
“Forgiveness is the final form of love.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr
As Kelsi mentioned yesterday, the Cle Elum 7 got their first real look at their new neighbors on Tuesday afternoon, and Mave, Willy B, and Honey B got to explore their new outdoor chute. We don’t have the video of their first reactions ready for you just yet (sorry for all the suspense), but I think I can safely tell you that there has been no one more preoccupied with the sight of new chimpanzees than Burrito.
We were all pleasantly surprised with how interested (and almost calm) he seemed to take their first reveal. I might have been expecting his reaction to be something more like total panic and fear (or maybe even pretend that he cannot see them), but instead he seemed to take it all in stride and has now moved on to complete (high arousal) fascination. He has been spending his days moving from the Playroom windows to the Greenhouse, trying to get a peek at anyone sitting outside in their new space. Here was Mr. B on the lookout on Young’s Hill this morning (notice his erect hair and fixed gaze).
We are still getting to know the slightly reserved Willy B, but these last few days he has really started to loosen up and show us his silly side. In case you don’t follow us on Facebook/Instagram, you might have missed this pretty amazing video of him and a slinky.
Before the new chimpanzees moved in, we installed closed circuit video cameras in the Phase 1 Building so we could spy on the chimps’ activities. This morning we were watching Willy B’s wild slinky antics on the television in the foyer. Willy B was upstairs in the mezzanine whipping the slinky back and forth between his legs and JB was working close by with his back turned to the caging. Every time JB turned around to see the what the noise was about, Willy B played it cool and stopped his game. We see you Mr. Willy B and we can’t get enough!
The original Cle Elum 7 have had a relatively typical summer day in Central Washington. They’ve spent the day playing, napping and taking periodic “recess” breaks on Young’s Hill.
Jody and a fresh picked snack:
But despite the seemingly average day at the sanctuary, there has still been something that keeps drawing them back into the playroom for a quick and necessary investigation.
Willy B, Mave and Honey B are just out of sight (for now), but as soon as they get access to their new outdoor chute, the 2 groups will get a better view of each other from a little distance. In the meantime, the new 3 can get glimpses of the 7 from their view upstairs if the other chimps are on Young’s Hill. So far, it’s been a relatively quiet and peaceful transition for the newest sanctuary residents. Staff members are taking turns getting to know everyone and vice versa. We are all just so thrilled to welcome them to their new home and we can’t wait for what’s to come.