Editor’s Note: Emily was a Summer Apprentice with the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute over this past summer. You can learn more about the Summer Apprentice program here.
One day last week, Tatu, Dar and Loulis were in the outside enclosure, Dar and Tatu on the cement platform and Loulis now halfway up the caging, banging and shaking in Dar’s general direction. In fact, Loulis had been threatening Dar on and off all morning, and after putting up with it for a long time, Dar started showing signs of agitation. As Tatu worked calmly at opening a coconut, Dar started rocking back and forth in front of her in a slightly threatening manner. But instead of becoming upset herself, or leaving the situation, Tatu signed CHASE to Dar, and a short game ensued. Tatu has often been observed trying to diffuse tense situations by “changing the subject”. Unfortunately it was all a little too much for Dar and after a moment he stopped playing and displayed a fear grimace, to which Tatu responded by giving him a big hug and then grooming him for a few seconds. Then Dar, much calmer, left the platform and climbed to the top of a climbing structure. He seemed much more relaxed and even when Loulis threw a tire at him, he reacted in his usual nonchalant manner. It just goes to show a hug from a good friend goes a long way.