My Favorite Part of the Day

My Favorite Part of the Day

My favorite part of the day is when it’s just me and chimps. When everyone else has gone home and all of the day’s tasks are finished, when the sanctuary is calm and quiet, and the chimps are settling in for the evening, my favorite thing to do is simply spend time with my family.

Sometimes I sit with Herbie and let him groom my shoes through the mesh. Sometimes I play chase with Jackson until I’m bent over, gasping for breath, while he looks at me in exasperation because he was just getting started. Sometimes I play tug-of-war with CJ and see how long I can hold onto my side of the string before she rolls her eyes and pulls it away from me in an effortless tug. Sometimes — when she’s in the mood — I paint Thiele’s toenails, and she patiently waits while I blow on them until they’re dry. Sometimes I chat with Emma while she looks longingly at my scabs, her puppy eyes widening in a desperate plea to pick at them. Even when I still have computer work to do, I sometimes bring my laptop into the Chimp House, and sit on the ground so Patti can watch the screen as I work.

But before I leave for the night, I always find Topo. Whether he is in the process of meticulously making his sleeping nest, or grooming with Thiele, or relaxing with his chin in his hands, he always lets me spend a few minutes with him. He may engage me with a laugh or a grooming session or a quick game of chase, or he may simply walk over and sit beside me, his chocolate brown eyes boring holes in my heart as he looks at me with pure benevolence.

It’s during this last part of the day — when it’s just me and the chimps and the quiet of the sanctuary — that I am overwhelmed by how incredibly lucky I am to know these animals as intimately as I do. To consider them part of my family. To have them consider me part of theirs. It’s an absolute honor, and I cherish every moment I have with them. Especially these moments.

Sweet dreams from Chimps Inc.

Rachel, Senior Caregiver