Terry is one of our most vocal chimps! Daily, he spends a large amount of time Bronx cheering, also known as blowing raspberries. I saw a few comments about Terry’s Bronx cheers on our recent videos, so I thought it’d be a great topic to dive into today.
Terry doing what he does best, Bronx cheering:
For those unfamiliar with Terry’s Bronx cheers, you can hear him do so here (1:31), here (0:43), and here (1:38). I have also included a link to a video that J.B. created a few years ago that covers Bronx cheers (located at the top of this page), however Terry had not arrived at CSNW then so he wasn’t featured in that specific video.
Let’s dive into how humans created the term Bronx cheer as well as blowing raspberries.
- a sound people make by vibrating their lips in order to express disapproval or contempt
- a sound created when ridiculing somebody
- a sound of contempt made by protruding the tongue between the lips and expelling air forcibly to produce a vibration
As you can see, Bronx Cheer and Raspberry are basically synonymous.
Origin of “Bronx Cheer”:
- Originated from The Bronx, a borough in New York City
- The phrase is believed to have originated after or during the 1920s when it first appeared in the Bridgeport Telegram, a Connecticut newspaper. The term was used in reference to a soccer match.
- Written as “…if Chicago lose the east will grin and give western football the jolly old Bronx cheer.”
- Originated as a slang term in the USA in the early 20th century and began appearing in newspapers around 1920 on topics such as sports.
- ‘Bronx cheer’ was included in an English-American Dictionary column that was printed in the English newspaper The Daily Mail in 1924, which was part of the Mail’s regular attempts to keep their readers up to date with Americanisms.
Origin of “blowing a raspberry”:
- Essentially the same action as making a Bronx cheer
- Some believe the expression is a shortened version of the Cockney rhyming slang ‘raspberry tart’ and the sound is an imitation of flatulence
- Other explanations are that a raspberry comes from the shape of the lips when making the sound
Now you must be wondering, how did this end up relating to chimpanzees?
As J.B. wrote on his Bronx cheer blog in 2020, captive chimpanzees have discovered that the Bronx cheer, or blowing raspberries, is a great attention-getting sound to capture the attention of humans, especially when used repetitively and loudly. It can mean “hurry up”, “gimme that”, “look at me”, etc.
While I did not cross-check across multiple sources, I did find an article that said Bronx cheering or blowing raspberries has not been reported in any wild chimpanzee group. However, it has been reported in some (not all) groups of wild orangutans. I will link this article here to read more.
Some non-vocal common ways that captive chimpanzees use as a means to capture the attention of caregivers include cage banging and hand clapping.
Back to Terry:
While many of the chimps at CSNW use a Bronx cheer sometimes, especially when food is being served, Terry takes it to a whole different level. It’s almost part of who he is, which may be weird to say. Terry will Bronx cheer during meals while waiting for his turn, he will Bronx cheer to greet a human and interact with them throughout his day, and also will often Bronx cheer while grooming (although he lip-smacks while grooming too).