Grooming has very little to do with hygiene. And while we tend to play up the political aspect of grooming, it’s not all quid pro quo, either. Sometimes it’s just a desire for comfort, or in Annie’s case, an expression of absolute and all-consuming love for her best friend, Missy.
As Anna mentioned yesterday, the humans are hard at work getting ready for our new arrivals. The quarantine area is almost done, with just a few items remaining on our punch list. The big project we’re working on now is the installation of an overhead chute that will connect the indoor quarantine enclosures to an extension of Young’s Hill. This will accomplish two things: First, it will give the new chimps a way to get some fresh air while they’re still under strict quarantine, which prohibits sharing access to the existing enclosures for health reasons; and second, it will provide the new chimps with a way to access Young’s Hill after quarantine but before they are fully integrated into the existing group. This second point is important, because successful introductions are never guaranteed and even successful intros can stretch on for many months.
The reason for elevating the chute is to maintain access for people and equipment around the building, something that gets trickier as sanctuaries grow and get more complex. Plus, chimps just seem to love overhead chutes.
The team behind the project is led by Gary McInnis of Sage Mechanical (pictured above with a section of the new chute outside his workshop). We were first introduced to Gary through our good friend Ozzie at Spencer Fluid Power, who generously donated a hydraulic unit to power the chimp doors we inherited from the former Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute. Gary visited the sanctuary with Ozzie last fall to help advise us and before long he had offered to donate all of the labor and materials required to hook up the doors. He then asked about the caging we were building and offered to do that job for 25% less than the lowest bid we receive. All told, Sage Mechanical has donated $35,000 worth of materials and labor this year to help us create a home for Honey B, Willy B, and Mave. It’s rare for us to get to work with a group as generous and committed to the sanctuary as Gary and his team.
While the humans are working hard to get everything ready, the chimps are free to do as they please. For Missy and Annie, that often means playing. For Negra, it usually means a good nap. But once and a while she will get a little playful, as you can see in the video above.
Mornings on Young’s Hill are a flurry of activity.
The chimps leave the greenhouse after breakfast and race from structure to structure, motivated in part, I imagine, by the desire to see what changes may have occurred overnight while they slept.
The structures offer the best vantage points to spot everything from nearby wildlife to vehicles coming up the driveway.
This morning, Jody had only one thing on her mind: she immediately made a beeline to the Twister to search for the cows.
She found them resting beneath the shade of the Ponderosa pines, just beyond the fence. It looked to me like she thought back up was on its way, but she was going to have to perform her reconnaissance alone.
As the cows rose from their naps, Jody spied on them through the fire hose web.
Soon her cover was blown and she found herself facing down 6,000 pounds of curious bovines, so she retreated to the company of her chimpanzee family.
Meanwhile, Missy played the “ground is lava” game, oblivious to the drama at the top of the hill.
She followed Jamie around without setting foot on the ground…
…aided by her incredible balance, a pair of opposable big toes, and let’s just call it a low center of gravity.
While Jamie trudged through the tall grass, Missy leapt and swung above it all.
Here are some more photos of the all-you-can-eat lettuce buffet yesterday. Can’t wait to see some of you at tomorrow night’s Hoot! gala.
Negra weighing the cost of getting out of bed versus the benefit of eating breakfast:
Foxie’s first stroll around the hill:
Negra got plenty of sun today:
Annie preferred the shade:
Jody bringing her lunch forage haul back to the greenhouse:
Annie blowin’ in the wind:
Jamie dissecting a cucumber. Why do the humans keep leaving the peels on?
Jody laying down to eat while watching the rest of her family forage on the hill:
Burrito loves food, but there are times when love doesn’t adequately describe their relationship.
With hands full and mouth stuffed, he retreats,
to a quiet, still place.
In these moments, he looks heavenward in a state of transcendence,
and with each bite slips further the surly bonds of earth and time.
Suffering and desire cease to exist. The boundaries of self begin to dissolve.
In these moments, there is only one thing. There is only food.
Unfortunately, every meal has to come to an end.