Photo: Project Chimps

#ChimpChat: Michael and Emma

It’s our favorite day of the week, #ChimpChat Wednesday! Today we’ll be checking in with Caregiver Michael, who will be chatting with us about Emma. Emma is an 11-year old, higher ranking female chimpanzee who lives with nine other females at the Cedar Tree Villa. Michael describes Emma as brilliant, playful, and very observant. “I wanted to talk about Emma because she is wicked smart and is always one step ahead,” Michael explains. “She definitely likes to sit back and observe the caregivers and she is quick to spot patterns and routines. I believe Emma finds it engaging when I change my daily routine. It’s like a big puzzle and she appears to enjoy figuring it out!” Michael likes to switch up his daily routine in a multitude of ways, including handing out meals in a different order, or setting up their enclosure so the chimps will have to forage and gather their food in a new and challenging way. “Since I’ve started working with Emma, her personality has definitely changed and blossomed,” Michael explains. “It takes time to earn Emma’s trust, but once you get past her tough exterior, she is quite sweet, caring, and playful.” Michael and Emma enjoy spending one on one time together, like playing a game of tug-of-war while the other chimps are off foraging or grooming each other.

As the incredibly intelligent chimp that she is, Emma has aligned herself with alpha female, Latricia. “Emma is really high ranking,” Michael said. “One of the ways we see this is that she will spend a lot of time grooming and eating alongside Latricia. Emma will almost always side with Latricia when the other chimps get in a disagreement.” Emma’s personality is very unique, but Michael wants people to know that “even though Emma may enjoy her time with the caregivers, she will spend even more time foraging, grooming, and behaving like a chimp”. True sanctuary means allowing a chimpanzee the space to be just that – a chimpanzee, with no expectations or requirements. True sanctuary is a place where chimps are able to make their own decisions: whether it’s choosing to interact with caregivers, groom with friends, have a snack, or spend time alone.

Michael, Emma, and everyone at Project Chimps would like to thank all of our generous supporters who help us provide sanctuary for these amazing chimpanzees. We simply couldn’t do it without all of your generosity and kindness.