Puberty blues chimp style
Puberty sucks for chimps too
One of the things I learned very quickly working with chimpanzees is that some of them will love you and some will despise you. There’s very little you can do to change it.
I have lived my entire life as a people pleaser and I soon realised I was also a chimp pleaser to boot. I couldn’t stand it if one of them didn’t like me and looked at me with utter distain.
There were a few bad cookies in the crew and thankfully they didn’t like anyone. These were the chimps who would spit in your eyeballs with incredible aim (you often wouldn’t even see it coming, and you definitely couldn’t see with all that spit in your eyes)
In my regular life, I have an aversion to teenage boys (sorry) They smell bad, are cheeky little buggers and are often brutal in their approach to older women.
Turns out teenage male chimps have the same sort of respect back at me. These were the guys who would try to make my life misery on a daily basis. It was like they knew my entire reason for remaining child free was to avoid having these back chatting human trolls (Sorry again!) These little turds would torture me daily with dirt in the face, aggression displays and putting the fear of god into me.
One of these boys was called Gamba. He lived in Paddy’s group. Paddy was the dominant male who was roughly the same size and similar attitude to King Kong. Everyone respected Paddy as their leader. He was firm but also kind, he had an aura of authority and leadership but I never really saw him become brutal with any of his group. I also respected him and under no circumstances did I want to piss him off. EVER.
Gamba was a typical teenage boy. He was often up to mischief and it usually involved anyone else who was up for an adventure. But him and I did not see eye to eye.He was one I could never seem to win over.
During the winter months, we would often feed the chimps piping hot, baked potatoes. The chimps loved these days and you’d often sense the overwhelming joy of jacket potato day. There was only one problem. These potatoes had literally just come out of the oven and the best way to feed them was to throw them down to the chimps from a feed station above their enclose. For most keepers this wasn’t a problem, but I’d never played ball sports and was about as good an aim as a blind person playing pin the tail on the donkey.
As I picked up the potato, I scorched my hand and had to throw it without really paying attention to where it landed (it really wouldn’t have been a good aim regardless)
It landed with a thump right on Paddy’s rump!!! ‘Oh shit’ was my first reaction. Panic was my second. Paddy began looking around searching for the dirty scoundrel who would DARE hit him on the ass with a VERY hot baked potato. I dropped every piece of evidence I had in his view but fortunately for me, Gamba was standing right next to paddy.
Paddy took one look at the guilty chimp (oops) and gave him the biggest slap I’ve ever seen. Gamba ran off screaming and Paddy walked off in a big huff, potato in hand.
The Wiggles – Hot Potato – This seems very fitting right now 😉
I also scuttled off with a spring in my step, a guilty conscience and a vow to NEVER touch a potato again.
Chimp life is complicated. Thank god I didn’t have children.
Paddy’s group For more information on Monkey World and Paddy, please click on link.