Bonding With Thiele

Bonding With Thiele

Thiele is known to be a “chimp’s chimp”, one that doesn’t care much about humans (unless they have food). She gets along wonderfully with all of the other chimps and even knows how to handle Herbie well, who is notorious for being difficult. After spending nearly two years with these chimps, seven months of which I’ve been a full time caregiver, Thiele finally looked at me as someone useful for something other than a food source. She began with her typical play initiation of drumming and grunting. I drummed back at her and soon she was asking for more play. She’d stick her fingers out and wiggle them and soon began rolling on her back with a colorful towel draped over her feet and squirmed while she laughed. After a few moments she stuck one end of the towel through the wire mesh of her enclosure for me to grab and we played tug-o-war with it. She was clearly going easy on me! Later in the day, we bonded further with some quiet time, looking through photos and videos of her and the other chimps. Thiele was fully engaged scrolling through the photos on my phone and really got a kick out of the selfie camera! She looked into the front facing camera on the phone and stroked her face, stuck out her tongue, and turned her prehensile lips inside out, inspecting how she looked. I felt truly honored to have Thiele willing to spend this time with me.

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Kaleigh R., Caregiver