As many of you know (especially if you watched the recent Christmas videos), the CSNW chimps have a lot of stuff. Most of the chimps are not attached to these things – they use them and enjoy them and then go on about their business. But some chimps are quite materialistic and borderline obsessive about it, too.
This morning, Sofia and I were cleaning the playroom when I heard Jamie emit a “low moan” from the front rooms. This is a vocalization that often indicates satisfaction. I imagined that she had saved her primate chow from breakfast, as she often does, and was digging into it in private while the others chimps groomed in the greenhouse. But when I peeked around the corner I found that she didn’t have any chow and was simply making a nest. With her, however, was her favorite book, I’m Lucy.
An attachment to things wouldn’t work very well for a species that ranges across a vast territory and rarely sleeps in the same place twice. While Jamie was not fortunate enough to know the life of her wild counterparts, there’s some comfort in knowing that she gets to experience the same pleasure we do when settling down with a good book on a snowy winter morning.
On a separate note, I just wanted to express our thanks to the rest of the staff (and their spouses) who dealt with some challenging conditions while Diana and I were gone on a longer than expected trip. Kelsi mentioned that the well froze up, but she may not have mentioned that the cattle water also froze up just as we left, the radiant heat in the original chimp building stopped working the next morning (we have backup heaters on standby), and the tractor refused to run, requiring them to find someone to come plow the sanctuary’s long and steep driveway on short notice and make multiple trips to the well house with a heat gun using snowshoes. All of this on top of having to take turns staying overnight at the sanctuary through the holidays. Some might say that Diana and I were the real heroes last week, as we valiantly struggled to enjoy all the cookies, cocktails, and Christmas presents with my family while burdened with the knowledge that the rest of the staff were facing one catastrophe after another. But I’d say our coworkers did a pretty good job, too.