Photo: Project Chimps

#ChimpChat: Buttercup and Joel

Today’s #ChimpChat features the one and only Buttercup through the eyes of her dear friend and caregiver, Joel. “Since my first moment meeting Buttercup she’s had such an impact on me,” Joel explained. “My first day,” he said, “She ran up to the mesh and wanted me to say hello. I knew this due to the fact she instantly pressed, while wiggling, her belly up to the mesh and issued some playful grunts. It worked. Since then, she has held a special place in my heart, which she usually uses to get her own way – which usually involves more belly rubs and me telling her how beautiful she is”. Buttercup is a very unique chimpanzee. She has an identical twin, Charisse, who is never too far away. Even though they’re identical, Buttercup has her own personality, likes and dislikes, and place among the other female chimps. Between Buttercup, who is often lovingly referred to as Butters, and Charisse, Charisse is by far the more outgoing and daring chimp. Buttercup’s demure nature and small stature has earned her the position as lowest ranking female in her group. “We know that Buttercup is lower ranking due to the way she naturally takes a more submissive role when interacting with the other females, including her sister,” Joel explained. “However, she is the most outgoing and courageous chimp when it comes to new items or new people. She’ll be the first person to run up and check something out. If she deems you worthy enough to hangout around her or her family group, she’ll try her very best to get your unwavering attention. If not, you’ll be able to witness her display, which we respect for showing her feelings, but when you walk away it’s hard not to break a smile and admire the emotion and ruckus that this little female chimp can produce,” Joel said. A display is a common method of communication among chimpanzees. “Chimps use displays for many reasons, but usually it involves the act of showing dominance to others without having to make physical contact. During a display, the chimp may stand upright, swagger, stomp their feet and wave their hands, while producing an ever increasing scream. As the vocalization builds, the chimp may charge, throw items, or do anything they can to make themselves look as big and scary as they can be,” Joel explained.

Some of Buttercup’s favorite things in the world are belly rubs, hanging out with her twin sister Charisse, interacting with the care staff or any new person, and all the different kinds of daily enrichment that the staff offers. Joel, as well as many other members of the Project Chimps’ team, identifies Buttercup as loving, sensitive, and outgoing. “Her great attitude from day to day is contagious,” Joel said, “not a day goes by that the care staff doesn’t share a new and interesting experience with Buttercup”. Joel says, “I love to talk about Buttercup because she is so dynamic. Her and her sister, Charisse, usually have some very interesting antics going on throughout the day that stun me and then melt my heart completely”. Over time, Joel and Buttercup have formed a special bond. “A standout out moment to me was when the females were introduced to their very first yoga ball,” Joel explained. “Buttercup and Charisse are the youngest and smallest females in their group, which means that without a doubt the yoga balls we give them are usually much larger than they are. As soon as the twins encountered the yoga ball, they immediately started pounding and kicking the ball around as the other females hesitated and made sure the ball was ‘safe’ to be around,” Joel said. “Those moments when Buttercup and her sister are having fun, letting go, and just enjoying themselves is something that I personally use to conquer things in my own life,” Joel explained. “It’s the perfect example of what sanctuary is – freedom to be themselves, opportunity to experience new things, and the ability to have as much fun as one wants without fear of judgment”.

If you would like to symbolically adopt Buttercup, please visit our Adopt-A-Chimp page here: