(or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Step on Grass)
It finally happened. Cy’s group stepped out of the chute and entered the Bray.
It was a very different experience than watching the Cle Elum Seven enter Young’s Hill for the first (or even second) time. It may be because the Californians are a newer group than the Seven were at the time, or perhaps it’s because the Waystation chimps had spent more time outside of cages when they were young (and, as noted in a previous comment section, as adults in some unauthorized cases). In any case, while there was less hugging and screaming as they entered the habitat, watching them explore was every bit as emotional.
Willy B’s transformation from fearful and agoraphobic to Conqueror of the Bray is a testament to the power of friendship. Every minute we spent worrying while integrating his group with Cy’s was worth it to see him follow his friends out into the grass.
You’ll notice that Honey B, Mave, and Dora did not join their friends outside yesterday. That’s OK. I believe they will soon, as they will also benefit from Rayne’s confidence and the boys’ leadership. But if it takes longer, that’s OK too. They will get there in their own time.
Our most heartfelt thanks to all of you who made this day possible, especially to our friend James, in whose memory the Bray is named.