Rosemary is home!!
Rosemary is finally back with the girls! Last week Rosemary was darted by the Manager who is a veterinarian and moved to the girls cage. It went so much smoother than I could of ever imagined. When the dart went in she didn’t scream or seem distressed, she fell asleep shortly after. Very quickly several keepers arrived and carried her to the new cage. She slept for a couple of hours and then vocalised greetings to the other chimpanzees. She has been very submissive which means hopefully things will go smoothly when the doors are opened so she has full contact with the girls.
Left; the veterinarian uses the opportunity to check Rosemarys dental health. Right; all the keepers observe Rosemary’s recovery.
By the next morning Rosemary had moved her nest to be as close to the girls as possible and their interaction between the mesh has been mostly positive. Having said that chimps are complicated and unpredictable animals so I am still going to be very cautious. There has been a lot of grooming and reasurance between her and Sassy Cecelia.
It’s so lovely to see her moved out of the small isolated cage and it’s fascinating seeing the other chimps respite to her presence. I will keep you updated on the progress of her integration.
but for now here is a little more info on lovely Rosemary…
Rosemary was confiscated from the wild when complaints were received about her disturbing the villages. I am told she was a young adult when this happened and wonder weather she had left her group to find another, but had trouble finding one. Female chimps leave their social groups when they are around 13 years old to join a new group, this prevents inbreeding. She may also have been taken from the wild when she was younger and kept as a pet, that would explain why she was disturbing people in villages. Wild chimps rarely disturb people, apart from crop stealing. It still remains a mystery.
Rosemary is a very intelligent and active girl. She is constantly observing her environment and watching others. She vocalises a lot more than the other chimpanzees, including pant-hoots, food grunts, grooming noises, greeting vocalisations etc. This is probably as she spent so long in the wild where these noises are necessary communication to survive. She also screams a lot, she is very sensitive. If a chimp looks at her sideways she loses her shit.
She is an excellent nest builder and has been seen trying to make nests out of absolutely anything available to her, including biscuit wrappers and fruit peels.
Her most prevalent stereotypic behaviour is hair-plucking. This is common in captive chimpanzees, in a huge range of facilities including labs, zoos and sanctuaries. Yet it has not been seen in the wild, which is why it is categorized as abnormal. It is something Rosemary hasn’t always done. When I visited in 2013 Rosemary didn’t have patches of bare skin on her hands (as can be seen in the photo above), arms and knees as she does now, so it seems to have been triggered by her past few years of isolation. This makes me hopeful that in the next few years this behaviour will subside and her hair will grow back. Rosemary also rocks, and stereotypically grooms herself.
Hopefully this girl will be fully integrated with her two friends soon. Chimps need chimps as much as people need people, so this is probably the biggest welfare issue we are solving. We got her out of solitary confinement!