I can’t imagine Foxie without dolls. She is almost never without one, and they obviously bring her a lot of comfort and happiness. What many people may not realize is that dolls can also be an outlet for Foxie’s frustration.
In the past, Foxie has “adopted” troll dolls, Dora the Explorer dolls, Bratz dolls, and some Madame Alexander Happy Meal figurines. But most other dolls tend to get ripped to shreds immediately, especially stuffed primate dolls. And even her beloved trolls and Doras are not always treated with care.
I think it’s easy to read too much into her behavior, but some things scream out for interpretation. Clearly, Foxie shows some displaced maternal behavior with her trolls and Doras. She had five babies in the lab, and all were taken from her. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that she enjoys getting a chance to care for her dolls in a way that she never did with her real children. But most of the other female chimps at CSNW had children in the lab too, and they don’t show the interest in dolls that Foxie does. Maybe Foxie just has a more active imagination.
We’ll never really know how Foxie feels about her dolls. In school, we learned about chimpanzee behavior, but this is more like psychoanalysis. At some point, most chimpanzee caregivers stop trying to explain every detail of behavior in the chimps they care for and just accept what they see. Foxie loves her troll dolls. She also beats them up from time to time. That’s the Foxie we know and love.