We put out fresh straw this morning in the outdoor area and Jody wasted no time building a large, comfortable nest.
For Foxie, passing a troll to a caregiver is usually an invitation to play. But sometimes it can be an invitation to sit down and have some “quiet time”. Foxie will gently rub the troll on her belly, or place it in her pelvic pocket, and then pass it back to us. After a minute or so, she’ll extend her hand and ask for the troll back again. This back-and-forth can go on for quite some time, during which Foxie seems content as can be. This morning’s exchange involved two trolls:
As soon as I left, Foxie started to make a nest. Not a real nest, mind you, but a Foxie-style nest: a couple of trolls and a piece of fire hose. Better than nothing!
Here is a video from the first day outside. One of our board members, Zibby Wilder, brought a blanket made by her grandmother specifically for Missy. The video is Missy taking the small pink blanket and nesting with it, Jamie coming over to perch on a boat bumper, Missy being overcome by the urge to chase Annie, and Foxie stomping around on the deck. Foxie’s stomping is something she did when the chimpanzees went into the play area for the first time – I wonder if Angie would do the same thing.
Negra is a large chimpanzee with a Buddha-style belly. She is surprisingly pale, given her name, partly because her face is naturally not as dark as many chimpanzees, and partly because she has lived without sunlight for most of her life. She shows her age; it is hard to picture Negra as an infant clinging to her mother as her family traversed the forests of her African home. She was captured from this home in 1973, only a few years before it became illegal to import chimpanzees into the
Among other things, Negra was forced to produce infant chimpanzees who were to be sold into research. She had three babies taken away from her for this purpose. Negra was denied the opportunity to raise her own children as she would have in the wild, but she maintains a maternal quality which has probably helped in her leadership role at Buckshire. Her calm physical presence alone clearly relaxes the less dominant individuals of the group. She has been described as the queen of her clan, and it is easy to see why.
During my visit, Negra did not seek my attention until I began to hand out newspaper. She took every piece of newspaper that was offered to her, and then went to what was clearly her spot on the platform ledge of the last cage. She carefully folded and placed each sheet of paper to make her small nest â€“ a natural instinct in chimpanzees. After giving out the newspaper, I would occasionally go over to Negra’s side of the building and quietly call her name. She would immediately (although slowly) get up, come over, and look into my eyes. I would give her a handful of peanuts, she would softly grunt and then return to her bed.
The regular enrichment given to the chimpanzees at Buckshire consists mainly of newspaper, peanuts, hard plastic balls (which Negra showed no interest in), and occasionally some “special treat” like snow from outside. It is a far cry from what she needs and deserves.
It is difficult to say how many more years Negra will live, but she clearly needs and deserves to live out the rest of her life in a sanctuary. Negra deserves to be forever free from the fear of life as a laboratory subject. She deserves to have choices in her life. She deserves to have room to walk, run and climb. She deserves to have access to the outdoors. She deserves a daily supply of a wide variety of food. And she deserves lots and lots of blankets so she can finally make the bed that will truly make her feel content.