Fission Fusion at Fauna Foundation - Jethro Chimpanzee

Fauna’s Fission-Fusion Society

Living in a Fission-Fusion Society at Fauna

At Fauna, the chimpanzees live in what is called a fission-fusion society. This mimics a typical wild society where the size and composition of the social groups change as time passes and members move through their day and their environment (sleeping, foraging, traveling). It is a dynamic property of the chimpanzee community. Just like in free-living chimpanzee communities, the subgroup sizes and members at Fauna also change. The chimps are very clear who they would like to spend time with and will let the caregivers know they would like to visit with someone new or spend time with a different group-old friends or family members.

Allowing the chimpanzees to make choices about where and with whom they spend their day is one small way to offer them a social setting that is as close to their natural way of living as is possible in a sanctuary. Tatu and Loulis spend some days with just themselves, some days with Sue Ellen, some days with Spock, or some days with both of them.  Caregivers watch and change the group if anyone seems like they would like to visit with a new friend.

Freedom to Choose

Allowing the freedom to choose–be it food, companionship or whether to stay inside or go outside–is very important for Fauna’s chimpanzees so that they feel respected and autonomous. Allowing the chimpanzees to make choices about where and with whom they spend their day is one small way to offer them a social setting that is as close to their natural way of living as is possible in a sanctuary.

Recommended Reading

If you would like to learn more about fission-fusion society, these books are highly recommended.

The Chimpanzees of Gombe, by Dr. Jane Goodall

The Real Chimpanzee: Sex Strategies in the Forest, by Christophe Boesch