The chimpanzees had their proverbial “Do Not Disturb” signs hung on every door today. And given that it was cold, foggy and pouring rain all day, who wouldn’t rather stay in their cozy nest all day?
Me: “Good morning, everyone! Would you like to come to the greenhouse for breakfast while we clean your home?”
All seven chimpanzees: “No, thank you!!” With additional commentary from Missy: “No way! FORGET it! I’m staying right where I am.”
Me: “Okay, we’ll check back with you later!”
Over on the other side:
Me: Good morning, Mave, Willy B and Honey B! Would you like have breakfast in the mezzanine while we clean your home?
Mave, Willy B, and Honey B: “Absolutely not! Do NOT even THINK about moving those doors!” Every time Willy B even SAW me he ran outside to the chute!
Me: “Okay, we’ll be back later.”
This commentary pretty much repeated itself throughout the day.
Every year about this time of changing weather and slightly changing routines, we go through a rough and tumble period. Literally. In response to the humans’ attempts to shift the chimpanzees out of each area so we can enter to clean, they are more inclined to follow their own routines. And with the changes often comes a bout of the chimpanzees exhibiting more tension with one another and getting into squabbles, some big, most small, all very loud and dramatic. Given the current state of the world, I suspect most of you could relate to having more time indoors, maybe with the same people you’re always stuck with, someone trying to change this or that and well, you can see where tensions might flare.
Of course, we humans are always happy to default to the chimpanzees’ wishes, after all, it’s their home and their comfort is always the priority. It’s also one of the many important ways the chimps can makes choices about how they want their day to go. And it probably serves as some kind of enrichment for the caregivers, helps to keep the ol’ neuroplasticity flexible and firing as we have to figure out these puzzles the chimpanzees occasionally provide for us. And personally, there’s an odd sense of satisfaction when you’re able to follow their lead and somehow manage to successfully complete everything you need to. But it’s funny to listen to us. It’s easy to get sucked into flailing about, thinking, “What on earth are the chimps doing?! How will we get everything we need to done?!” “What are we going to do??!” When in reality, it happens every year and is actually entirely normal. We just conveniently forget from year to year. So looks like it’s a good thing for us to shake up that gray matter.
While the humans waited patiently for room service requests, Foxie felt that though it was not a good time for cleaning, it was a great time for playing.
Foxie! I mean, honestly, look at her beautiful self!!:
Getting ready to launch herself at the photographer because she’s super sassy and it’s super fun (notice the toes rubbing together – Foxie speak for feeling very happy and content):
Foxie loves to pass us her dolls then lie on her back and flail around. She makes these adorable snorting noises and gets pretty excited when you make them back:
I could never express to you how much I cherish this joyful soul of a chimpanzee woman:
Meanwhile, on the other side, beautiful, beloved Honey B was busy preparing to make a huge fort nest and allowed me ONE photo before she needed to get started: