Awkward Friends

Awkward Friends

Emma and Herbie are two chimps who have strange behaviors and often awkward social interactions, due to spending their early years being raised in human households. Emma often stares off into space, chewing on her hands, while Herbie tends to just send all the wrong signals, as if he’s still learning how to “speak chimp”. This week, we watched Herbie try to instigate Emma into play. She sat on the floor, unresponsive for a bit, as Herbie playfully nuzzled his head into her neck. When this didn’t work, he tapped his head against hers gently, over and over. This continued for several minutes but Herbie was determined to engage Emma. Meanwhile, Jackson was sitting in the corner, ready to play, and a looking a bit miffed that he didn’t have Herbie’s attention. Finally, Emma started to smile and made a play face. Herbie then grabbed her hands and bounced them up and down in his own and she continued to laugh and squirm.

The chimp residing at this sanctuary are far from perfect models of typical chimp behavior and because they were raised in human homes instead of their chimp mothers, they can sometimes have difficulties in their interactions with other chimps. Now that they live in a group of other chimps, they can help each other learn and grow and figure out what it means to be a chimp together.

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Kaleigh R., Caregiver