As many of our readers know, Jamie is the most dominant chimp of the Cle Elum Seven. That means that if food is nearby, whether she is interested in it at that moment or not, the other chimps respect it as hers and avoid grabbing anything that she might consider her own. You’ll see a couple interesting politics in the following video. Burrito knows that Jamie has left some chow on the floor and abandoned them to start wrestling with Foxie. He’s waiting for a point where he can take advantage of that distraction and get the chow pieces for himself. Once he eventually gets his opportunity, Foxie catches him in the act, and wants some for herself. Although Jamie still appears uninterested, Foxie asks for her permission to take some chow… but Jamie decides that she wants to keep the few pieces remaining for herself.
Chimpanzees can be very aggressive, but it’s easy to focus too much on this aspect of their behavior. What’s truly remarkable is how often they are able to resolve a conflict, or avoid a potential conflict, through such simple things as reassuring touches and gestures.
While not exactly the same, I often tell people that you can begin to understand chimpanzee dominance by watching The Godfather. In the following video, Negra plays the part of Don Corleone.