What Eyes Can Tell

What Eyes Can Tell

Of the many fascinating characteristics observed in chimpanzees, my favorite happens to be the various facial expressions they exhibit. By observing and comparing facial expressions with circumstances that surround their environment, we acquire insight on what might be going through their mind. It’s always interesting to see how their expressions are so similar to our own, and how they differ from each other.

Herbie seems to be the most expressive with his eyes. Exhibiting many different ‘looks’ that are unique to him, we can formulate ideas on what brings excitement versus challenge into his world.  He has a specific look that reflects many thoughts such as curiosity when seeing a new face or novel item. He tells us when he is most interested and excited, simply by raising both of his eyes when presented with items that are appealing, or not when given less exciting objects.

Herbie also possesses a gifted level of self-awareness, which we often see in the expression of his eyes. When caught in the act of mischievousness, such as stealing food from his buddies, he often avoids eye contact with any caregiver, who may have observed the situation. On the other side, he is most responsive when given positive verbal tones for good behavior. He loves it when we reward him verbally for doing such good deeds like sharing food, and cooperating with letting others eat before him.

Like Herbie, all of the chimps have a way of expressing their thoughts to each other, and to the humans taking care of them. This level of non-verbal communication is what I feel makes them so incredibly unique. ~Shayla Scott, Snr. Caregiver