Fauna's Tatu

Happy Anniversary Tatu and Loulis

On August 28th we celebrated our first Anniversary with Tatu and Loulis! My, oh my, what a year it has been!

Last month I said goodbye to Dr. Mary Lee Jensvold one more time after her summer visit to Fauna. But this time, it was very different. Although I knew she was leaving and would be missed, it would only be for a short while because this September Mary Lee will be back to stay!

Mary Lee’s dedication to continue doing the work she was doing at the University and her commitment to her long time friends, Tatu and Loulis, will bring her here to Canada this fall to carry on with the sign language, communication and behavioral studies.  But most of all, she will be back with her old friends!

Mary Lee brings with her such a vast knowledge of chimpanzee behaviors, skills in American Sign Language and so much more. We are truly blessed to have her join us here. With her calm, sensible ways and her voice of reason, will we all look forward to seeing Mary Lee here everyday.

A Friend to Tatu and Loulis

It is also deeply important for Tatu and Loulis to have this relationship continue. Although Mary Lee’s frequent visits were always welcome by the two chimpanzees, we are very aware of their ages and how suddenly they can be taken from us. Each day spent with them is to be cherished and enjoyed. I for one would want Mary Lee to be here should either Tatu or Loulis get ill or find themselves at the end of their lives. Knowing she will be here permanently is a great comfort, both for myself and for my family, and I know it is for Mary Lee as well. Right now Tatu and Lou are very healthy, so hopefully they will be with us all for a long while. Thank-you to the Board of Friends of Washoe for making this move happen, both for Fauna and Mary Lee.

This year has been a tough one in so many ways and yet a completely wonderful one as well…

Happy Anniversary Tatu and Loulis

The first days for Tatu and Lou were indeed a struggle with so many changes, including some that were quite frightening; new neighbours not always on their best behavior and a new way of living, it must have been very scary for them indeed.

In the beginning it is always interesting, just like it is going on vacation. We adapt to new and different ways and cultures. But even on vacation there comes a point we just really need to get back home to our routine and our familiar way of life.

For Tatu and Lou it seemed like this too. After the first very stressful week, Tatu was so depressed and disappointed, and Lou was so nervous and scared. Then, once those first weeks were over, certain things started to be interesting and fun and Tatu and Loulis were enjoying some of the new changes in their lives. However, soon after that, they seemed to need things the way they used to be. We had anticipated this might happen and planned for it. We expected they would need to have the comforts of home, familiar foods, drinks, blankets and most of all, familiar caregivers who knew their routines. It was part of our plan to help them adapt and benefit as much as possible by having familiarity.

Just as Tatu and Lou were working out their new lives and trying to adjust and adapt, make new friends, meet lots of new people and have such drastic changes in their environment, they also had to witness the death of Yoko and all the sadness that surrounded his illness. They arrived in August and Yoko started his quick decline during that time, passing away only 5 months after their arrival. They really went through a lot, as did all the other chimpanzees, but Tatu and Lou were away from their home and most of their friends.

Tatu and Loulis: Happy 1st Anniversary at Fauna

Fast-forward to today! What a difference in the way they are and to see how they have accepted the changes and done the very best they could to embrace their new lifestyle. For me, to see Tatu take control of her life and begin to assert herself at Fauna has been a relief and a blessing.

I was shocked one day to watch her tossing, well throwing is the better word for it, items from her overhead walkway down on all who annoy her or are not in her favor that day. Tatu, Lou and Sue have the front skywalk; the one that welcomes (or not) all visitors to the chimp house. They see everyone who enters the building…and on some days it seems Tatu does not wish for certain people to enter and expresses her annoyance with them.

The way she expresses this is to throw plastic water bottles, stainless steel bowls and cups and even sheets and blankets-all dropping on the heads of her intended victim. At first I thought it was accidental as she will ask for a drink sometimes then throw down the bottle for a refill…but once she started to pick up all movable items that could fit through the rather large caging up top, it was obvious she was very serious and very in control.

Although I was amazed to see this behavior from her, because I think she is perfect, I was giggling inside to see how in control she feels in those moments and how feisty and full of life she is. I adore her character and her expressive personality. It has been the most remarkable experience getting to know her and to learn so much about her and about chimpanzees, from her.

Fauna's Loulis

It has also been just a joy to experience just who Lou is. What a dear, dear little fellow. I see so many posts on Facebook about Loulis and receive so many notes from people who are totally in love with him and I know why. It has been equally enjoyable and heartwarming watching Lou make choices for himself–about where he wants to be and whom he wants to see. When Lou is not in the mood to greet staff or see anyone, he just stays out of sight. This is, of course, a real challenge for his caregivers who must do video follow with him as we continue to observe his interactions with the others and document his use of sign language.

Loulis will be up overhead, just out of view, hidden behind the tarps that cover the skywalks. He loves to be in a place where he can see what is going on, but not be seen. That is, until he wants a game of chase, or sees a friend he finds intriguing and interesting. He can decide what he wants to do and that is fantastic. Not that he couldn’t before but at the University they could not sleep out at night and sometimes had to have the doors closed earlier in the day so the students and staff did not have to sleep over. It is a little different here and this has been a good experience for Lou.

A friend who cares and who loves you will make your world so much better. Thank you for your continued friendship with Tatu and Lou and their chimpanzee family at Fauna. We could not do it without you.

What a year indeed!

–Gloria xo