My Zambia Chimpanzee Chronicles, Part VII, The Final Installment

10:30–Chimp time. Martin led Tracy and me out to the bush to meet the chimps. When we joined them Tobra ran at Tracy and bit her on the thigh. Patrick went after him with a stick and he “talked back” by running about 10 feet and then turned around and screamed at Patrick. That scared and infuriated Patrick who yelled louder and threw sticks at him as he fled high into a tree. What a misunderstanding! Tracy has been afraid of Tobra from the beginning and I think he mirrors her. Naturally, Tracy was in shock, trembling and almost in tears, so we first worked on her for a good 30 minutes, Mark on her ears, Harriet on her back, and I on the bite. Tobra sat quietly subdued in the tree above us.

When he came down, he tried to hang around to apologize, but Patrick chased all the chimps away. Off they ran, terrified, Cora and June and Donna running upright, clinging to each other for protection, arms wrapped tightly around shoulders or waists.

Tobra was still in shock. He did not join the others. He had been raised by an American couple as a baby and cannot understand being driven away. Sandy had clung to Harriet, tight as a tick, while the others were being chased away. So we took Sandy and quietly played and groomed him near Tobra, trying to interest him in coming to us for consolation and forgiveness. But it was at least 20 minutes before he came close. We rolled on the grass, presented our backsides to him, but nothing made him feel better. Finally he came close to us where Tracy was and after another hour she was able to groom him and they made up. It was the first time she had played with him, and after that he ran to her several times for protection.

Tobra still wants desperately to be accepted by Patrick, whose present interaction is only to yell at him or drive him away. We’re going to try to explain to Patrick that Tobra’s threatening is from fear. Patrick was better at the end of the day, after watching us play and cavort and roll in the grass with many of the chimps.

Mark and Tracy gave Patrick a number of presents, including a Coke, which Patrick drank and shared with the chimps. What a sight it was to see them playing tag with a Coke can.

6:00 PM–Rock and roll music drifted enticingly toward the river, emanating from an old eight-inch cassette. Sheila loves rock and roll. We had our usual conversation until dark then watched a one hour video of Tare and the chimps from several years ago, and finished the day with a delicious local fish dinner, including beef-based potato soup, and ranch-grown tomatoes and scallions, prepared by Mark and Tracy.

Later, Harriet and I wrapped Christmas presents. It’s amazing what we’re finding to give. I write this journal by the light of a kerosene lantern. How lovely and soft the light is. What an unusual Christmas eve. In another nine hour,s friends and family will be enjoying Christmas Eve in New Mexico, California and Canada, and I go to bed to the insistent chirp of tree toads and bullfrogs and the gentle sound of rain on the tin roof.

In the morning, Christmas paper flew while four children madly opened their presents as 17 chimps looked on through the wire into the living room. Seven-year-old Craig was down with Malaria, first symptoms of fever appearing on the drive from Chingola. He couldn’t keep the antimalaria pills down. I worked on his feet for over an hour, through a cool, wet towel. His temperature reduced. He quit throwing up and was able to keep a spoonful of Fancidol down. After a cool bath he was much better, and opened his Christmas presents. He played the rest of the day. A great opportunity for Sheila and his mother Lorraine to learn the TTouch.

In the afternoon, we visited Sheila’s elephant graveyard. Only the skull and a few bones remain. This was one of the last of six elephants who lived on the Siddle’s ranch for 3 years. They never broke through a fence in that time. Sheila lugged the bones into a safe spot under a rose bush the size of a tree. Sadly, there were no elephants left to bring the last one. A relic of a dying species.

We left Dave and Sheila and the chimps reluctantly for our 13 hour journey home. I’m delighted to report that the trip was most successful financially. You may remember that Harriet Crosby had called me to see if she could accompany me on one of my animal adventures and help in any way with Animal Ambassadors. Well, she made a very generous donation, enough for the Siddles to finish the compound and also a much-needed larger kitchen for the preparation of chimp and human food! So by February we expect the chimps to be out in their seven acre compound. The young ones will still accompany Patrick into the forest each day, and Harriet is planning to go back to visit in the summer. Sandy and Tobra and Rita and Boo Boo and Sheila and Dave really got a hold on her heart!

I am counting the days until I return to Africa. In December I’m planning to lead a group to Kenya where we will ride amongst the animals for two weeks, camping and practicing TTEAM on our horses. Of course we will visit the elephant orphanage and I plan to give a TTEAM demo for Nairobi horse people, so we will get a chance to mingle with them. We met some wonderful horse folks and some really good horses.

If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting the “dark continent,” I encourage you to start thinking about it. And read George Adams new autobiography, My Pride and Joy. His wife Joy, wrote Born Free. These books will give you a personal and brilliant view of Kenya.

© 2011, Linda Tellington-Jones. All rights reserved.

Tags: , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply