Being a caregiver at Chimp Haven has given me many memorable moments to cherish. Specifically, being a night caregiver has allowed me to have daily interactions with each chimpanzee and has helped me recognize the many similarities that we share. Yet my most memorable time has bee the ability to watch infant, Valentina Rose grow.
I first saw Valentina Rose – I call her Val for short – a few hours after she was born. Her mother, Flora, groomed her and held her closely while the rest of the group intently gazed with curiosity and wonder as she looked around the room. She was so small and fragile. Flora was extremely protective of her during the first months of her life – slowly she has allowed Valentina Rose to roam freely while still keeping a watchful eye. Now as a walking, climbing individual, Valentina Rose has a degree of curiosity that can only make you laugh. Even as Flora keeps watch, Valentina Rose intently travels from adult to adult, playing here and scuffling over there, at times even out of sight. She truly is an adventurous ‘kid’.
Her amazement for the world around her makes her indescribably human-like. She seems to love her caregivers and is more than willing to interact with us. Her lively attitude can only bring a smile to your face as she might glance and see the banana you carry or the juice bottle in your hand, only to spring up and of course want you to share with her.
Today, Flora allows Valentina Rose to have all the freedom she wants and she is allowed to play with whomever she desires. But rest assured she too wants her share of the treats. To watch Flora and Valentina Rose interact with all the love and compassion a human mother would give to her own daughter truly makes me appreciate these animals and strengthens my resolve for learning and understanding not only the way I personally interact with the world, but also how the world interacts with me. I learn something every day I spend with the chimpanzees of Chimp Haven and for that I owe them my undivided respect and appreciation.
Watch Valentina Rose and Flora have a little fun time here.