Photo: Project Chimps

#ChimpChat: Joel and Taz

This week’s #ChimpChat features Caregiver Joel talking about his new friend, Taz! As one of the more shy guys, Joel decided to talk about Taz, “to shed some light on a chimp that may be overlooked from time to time due to the other goofy and strong personalities in his group”. “My instant impression of him was that he was going to be the group’s quiet and sensitive guy – and that’s just the role he fits into,” Joel said. “At first he was withdrawn, especially with all the new people, but he’s definitely working on his shyness. In the beginning, I would have to take some time to reassure him that it was okay to come up and say hello to me. Now I always get a warm, quiet greeting when I walk into their villa home. These moments are everything to me. His demeanor is so comforting and relaxed. All the quiet moments in the morning when I whisper and ask about his last couple days are moments I will cherish as my hope for this new friendship blossoms even more.” As a lower-ranking male in the group, Joel describes Taz as amiable, empathetic, and reliable. “I don’t see the ‘alpha drive’ in him that most young male chimpanzees have,” Joel explains. “I like to think of Taz as having a ‘lover not a fighter’ mentality”. “Taz interacts with me best in a relaxed state,” Joel said. “He’s the guy who would rather just sit quietly with someone. Add in a couple of reassuring wrist touches and he quietly walks back to the group and starts up grooming someone again”. Grooming is an important part of chimpanzee social life. Grooming helps solidify social bonds and provides reassurance in times of distress. As a lower-ranking individual, Taz grooms with his chimp friends quite often. Along with grooming, Taz also loves food. His love of fresh produce has encouraged him to become more comfortable and interactive with his caregivers, especially around meal time. “I think the public should know that Taz is a wonderful, wonderful chimpanzee friend,” Joel said. “From now on he’ll have the ability to grow and change in whatever aspects he wishes. His newfound freedom and others’ opportunities at freedom are going to make all the difference to gentle souls like Taz who need some extra time to figure out their new life of retirement.” In general, Joel thinks it’s important that people know that there is no clear line with chimpanzee personalities, just like with humans. “Chimpanzees are ever changing, complex individuals that deserve all the time they need in order to figure out themselves, each other, and who they are within a group. That’s what we do at Project Chimps. We provide them the time and space to do just that”.

To symbolically adopt Taz, please check out his sponsorship page here: http://projectchimps.org/about/the-chimps/taz/