Herbie the Trooper

Herbie the Trooper

The chimps eat dinner at around 3:30 every day, but it was so beautiful yesterday that Jackson was not interested in coming inside. Herbie, however, was sitting patiently in the Chimp House eagerly awaiting his dinner. “Go get Jackson, Herbie,” I said to him as I started to hand out dinner to everyone else, and he walked outside to bring him in. He found Jackson lying on his back in the Front enclosure pummeling a teddy bear with his feet, and started pant hooting in his face in an attempt to get him excited enough to come in. Jackson unfortunately ignored him completely. Next time I walked past, Herbie was back inside waiting to eat. “Go get Jackson,” I said again, and he pulled himself up and traipsed back out to the Front. This time Jackson was sitting at the top of Topo’s tower snuggled up in a blanket. Herbie climbed slowly to the top and hooted again in Jackson’s face but Jackson still would not budge. He settled himself down next to him and began grooming Jackson’s shoulder (almost as though he were saying, “Ok, I’ll do you a favor and then you have to do me one”) but Jackson was not convinced.  This went on for quite a while.  Every time I would walk past, Herbie would be back inside waiting patiently and I’d have to urge him to go back out and bring Jackson in.  He would trudge out each time, shepherd Jackson around and try to steer him inside, but Jackson thought it was a game of chase (granted a very slow game of chase but still fun) and would run every which way except inside the Chimp House.  Finally it was almost an hour past dinnertime and everyone else had finished eating. “I’m sorry,” I said sadly to Herbie, who was back inside looking at me with puppy dog eyes. “Jackson needs to come inside before I can feed you. Go get him!” He gave me a piercing look that seemed almost exasperated and grumpily marched back outside, patience officially used up. This time Jackson was stomping the ground with a sneaker on his foot. Herbie circled behind him and then started head butting him towards the door to the Chimp House. Jackson looked startled and stumbled backwards but Herbie kept head butting him and herding him inside until he pushed Jackson through the door. Once inside, Jackson tried to slide past him to go back out, but Herbie puffed himself up and body-blocked him so Jackson couldn’t get past. He stood there in Jackson’s way, legs spread wide, until I was able to close the door behind both of them. Then Herbie sat himself down and tapped his nose pointedly, as though saying, “Ok seriously, give me my dinner now.” He totally deserved it.

– Rachel Bronstein, Caregiver