We first met eight year old Lisa Marie in the city of Chicago where she was working as an entertainment chimp. She is petite and delicate and captured our hearts with her beautiful smile. We brought plenty of toys, food and blankets to make her comfortable for the 18 hour ride to Florida. Like most children on a long car trip, she was rambunctious at first, throwing her toys around and demanding our attention, but as the sun set she settled into a nest of blankets and slept the rest of the journey.
Every chimpanzee is unique and it takes time to get to know him or her individually. We were happy to see that although Lisa Marie appeared small and frail, she was more curious than anxious in her new surroundings. Like so many of the chimps that we care for, Lisa Marie was taken away from her mother when she was young and raised in an unnatural setting with humans. It was comforting to see that she was not afraid of the big chimps in the cage next to her. She had a good appetite, was playful and explored her own special needs yard; all signs that she was adjusting well. After her health checks and quarantine, she was moved to Kiley’s building to get acquainted with her new family. At first, the noise and excitement of 19 other chimps seemed a bit much for a Lisa Marie as she had barely seen another of her own kind in her short lifetime. But as the group got used to her, they calmed down and she started to feel confident enough to begin interacting with other chimps safely through the mesh.
The time came for Lisa Marie to meet someone in her new family. Kiley, a sweet and friendly sixteen-year-old female, was everyone’s first choice. As we opened the sliding door between the two, we watched as Lisa Marie kept her distance. Kiley intuitively did everything right. Although you could see how much she wanted to hug Lisa Marie, Kiley patiently waited for Lisa Marie to approach her. Finally, Kiley was able to convince Lisa Marie that she meant no harm and they began to play, hug and groom.
Words cannot express how all of us at Save the Chimps feel when we see a new beginning for chimps that have not had the opportunity to live in a community of their peers. Social bonds, grooming, play, laughter and friendships are as important to chimps as they are to us. At present, Lisa Marie has three wonderful friends, Jaybee, Kiley and Ariel. She has a long way to go and many bonds to forge, but we are all confident she will someday be fully integrated into a wonderful family that will love and protect her.
Please make a donation in honor of our newest resident.