Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chimp vs. Chimp

It’s so funny, having another orphan in the house, mostly because it brings out the real personality differences between the two babies!

Aketi is already doing SO much better than he was yesterday -- we figure he’d had little to no food while in “captivity” with his hunter/mother-killer. He’s literally been eating ALL day, from bananas to spring onions to the same tomato soup we had for lunch!

It’s pretty normal for chimp babies to eat what their mothers were eating, so while we relaxed this afternoon, eating tomato-plantain soup, we put some in his little cup and he ate it eagerly, getting it ALL over his face. It was incredibly cute, and nearly made us forget all about how awful he’d looked just the day before.

Since they’re both in quarantine before heading to our little sanctuary, we decided to introduce him to Mangé today.

Mangé had much less time with his mother -- though he and Aketi are about the same age, Mangé’s mother was killed when he was probably only 3 or 4 months old. Aketi’s mother was only just killed, and the difference in their confidence levels is HUGE.

Aketi acts a lot more like a standard chimpanzee infant... he seems remarkably well-adjusted after his 6 days in the hunter’s grip. He seems to be warming up not only to Adam, but to me and Cleve as well. He does certainly alarm call, but he isn’t quite as dependent as Mangé is on defending and protecting himself. He doesn’t like new people, but he doesn’t scream as much.

He seems mostly focussed on sleeping and eating and hugging. And regularly pooping, which we’ve all been very responsible and diligent about picking up. The lingering odor of baby chimp shit is one I’m very accustomed to already! Ha!

Mangé, on the other hand, is hopelessly and neurotically dependent on Polycarpe. When very afraid, he adopts this behavior we’ve come to call “The Inchworm” where he huddles on the ground and pulls himself along the concrete with one arm. While it’s quite funny to watch, it’s also quite sad that he had to develop such a behavior at all.

Whenever Polycarpe exits his sight, Mangé shrieks quickly, and he’s yet to really accept any of us - Adam, me, or Cleve - for more than a few seconds.

Watching them interact is amazing too. Aketi is eager to play, and lounge, and very comforted by Mangé’s presence. Mangé, on the other hand, screams and tries to flee. He hid today in a pile of plastic bags, trying to stay as still as possible while Aketi lay next to him, lounging leisurely and trying to be friendly.

Poor Mangé tried to flee out of the room eventually, but he used the InchWorm, barely making any headway in his escape as Aketi followed him, walking normally, probably wondering what in the hell Mangé was doing.

It was, indeed, funny and pitiful all at once, because Mangé was still covered in plastic bags and we could hear the shh-shh-shh of the bags rubbing against the floor as he InchWormed his way into the living room.

We hope that the influence of Aketi will be good for Mangé -- perhaps growing less attached to poor Polycarpe. Additionally, if the two boys form a brotherhood, it’ll be an easier integration for them in the sanctuary.

We shall see what happens!

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