Relationships between caregivers and chimpanzees, such as Regis

Relationships between Caregivers and Chimpanzees

Relationships between caregivers and chimpanzees seemed to be of high interest when we asked recently what kind of content you were looking to see on our blog. Questions came up like — “Do the chimps have different relationships with different caregivers?” and “Do the chimps look for different things in different caregivers?”

We are here to tell you that as complex as your relationships may be from one person to another, it is the same between chimpanzees and caregivers alike. In order to better answer these questions, we thought we would highlight some of the relationships between caregivers and chimpanzees here at Fauna so that you can read for yourself how they differ from one another.

Sue Ellen and Matt

Most of you are familiar with Sue Ellen’s unique living situation and medical needs, but we bet you didn’t know that Sue Ellen also has a unique preference for who she loves to spend most of her time with. She loves to spend quality time with one of our caregivers, Matt. Matt is calm, patient and sweet. Whispering sweet-nothings to Sue, he spends mornings slowly serving her breakfast and afternoons playing games or setting up enrichment for dear Sue Ellen.

Relationships between caregivers and chimpanzees, such as Sue Ellen
Sue Ellen prefers spending time with caregiver Matt. Photo: Justin Taus.

Regis and Claude

Regis is a calm, highly intelligent, sensitive leader of the Chimphouse. He is also diabetic and requires daily injections and blood glucose readings. Claude, one of our caregivers, has a unique relationship with Regis. Regis will always point out when something isn’t quite right. It might be a little scratch on his lower back, or a wound from over-grooming. Whatever it is, Regis will show Claude so that she can tend to his injury. Some chimps will hide their injuries or refuse hydrotherapy, but not Regis. He will gladly offer up his wound for a hydro session and let Claude apply the needed ointments. She is his own personal nurse, and he knows it!

Tatu and Kaeley

Wherever Tatu is, Kaeley is not far behind. Kaeley quite literally followed Tatu across international borders when Fauna became Tatu’s new home in 2013. Kaeley and Tatu have a special relationship as they can communicate via American Sign Language (ASL). Whether it be a drink, a cracker, or a flower, Kaeley is always there to fetch what Tatu desires. Kaeley is one of several caregivers who is loyal and committed to making Tatu’s life in sanctuary one of comfort. Tatu might try to ask another caregiver for something but Kaeley is one of a few who always truly knows what she wants because they share ASL. Tatu knows this; she often completely ignores other caregivers’ who don’t know ASL. She often attempts to communicate and directs her needs towards Kaeley specifically.

Relationships between caregivers and chimpanzees, such as Tatu
Tatu has a special relationship with Kaeley as they both use ASL. Photo: Justin Taus.

Unique relationships between Caregivers and Chimpanzees

As you can see, different chimps go to different caregivers, and for different things. No two relationships are the same. Despite this we also stress to caregivers not to have favourites. It’s important that each chimpanzee feel supported by each of the caregivers. So even if Sue Ellen is happy to see Matt arrive in the morning, she’s just as happy to see Claude and Regis. Each caregiver endeavours to have the best relationship possible with each of our special residents.

Please consider making a donation to Fauna to support these essential caregivers and their activities with the chimpanzees!