Sunday, November 23, 2008

Un Peu Deranged

Mangé behaves like no chimpanzee I have seen thus far, which is saying a lot considering (when I add it up in my head) the number of sanctuary chimpanzees I have had exposure to.

While he might be cute with his flat face and huge wide floppy ears, the fact that he behaves SO little like a regular chimpanzee becomes especially troubling when taken into account the facts that he must eventually be integrated with the others and that, if he lives, he will somehow have to normalize over the course of time as he comes into adulthood.

Which of course begs the question, what will he be like as adult? And will the trauma of his first 3-6 months of life impact him in a markedly noticeable way?

Most chimpanzees of Mangé’s age are running about, getting into trouble and climbing and exploring and knocking things over.

But not Mangé. Instead, he cowers out of the way of most people and tends to scream and flee upon approach.

Unlike a normal flee though, he has adapted what Cleve and Adam and I call “The Inchworm” where he clutches his cheap plastic bag for reassurance and shuffles across the floor, pulling himself forward with only a single arm.

As a result of inchworming, he seems to have lost a lot of the hair on his shins and he seems not to use his legs often enough to have full use of them when running or walking

Even worse, he seems to be unaware of his species’ predilection for using hands for everything - grasping, eating, playing. Instead, he sits at the foot of whomever is feeding him and suckles his food just with his mouth and lips, keeping his hands dormant.

Not only is it very unchimpanzeelike, but man, it looks dirty.

Is eating with one’s hands even something you can teach?

I had hoped that when Aketi came to the house for their shared quarantine period that perhaps they could form a friendship, a bond, or even a male alliance. But any proximity to Aketi sends Mangé into paroxysms of fear and screaming, leaving Aketi confused and lonely without another same-species playmate.

It does leave me concerned over Mangé’s future at the sanctuary. He already is such a high-stress chimpanzee, what will the constant exposure to three other chimpanzees do to him?

And most importantly, will he be able to survive it?

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