I had a friendship with a chimpanzee many years ago and can relate to him, even now, more so possibly than the few friends that I currently have. His attitude to life, like mine was basic and his needs were few. Both of us needed stimulation in our lives to keep us active, food in our belly and a warm bed. He was a Young blade then, as was I, and daily I used to visit him in his domain and sit talking and communing with him.
We would start with him posturing in a wrestler like stance with his knuckles pointed down to the floor and where I could see them, he would make himself as big and as fearsome as possible (and at 15 years old that was really something to see) I would sometimes play with him by performing similar stances and run up and down the side of his cage until he decided that he`d had enough and that we should now groom each other and then I would sit with him so that he could pick at my hair (what there is) and so that I could reciprocate. I would mouth the “grooming mouth” and make the grooming noise and our friendship was assured. He was a great friend and always there for me when I needed him (he had no where else to go, bless him!)
I was fortunate enough to know him for at least fifteen years, I had discussed my career changes with him and political tactics for promotions and his advice was always correct. He would sit quietly and look at me with those beautiful, dark, bright eyes and listen to everything that I quietly “discussed” with him as if he fully understood. His Mate would sit some distance away and keep herself amused as if knowing that he needed this special contact as much as I. He was a really beautiful Chimpanzee the best looking male in the UK at the time, (unlike me)
He was an intelligent ape and when I installed a contraption to keep him and the Gorillas amused, that had a rope crossing the roof from his enclosure to the Gorillas enclosure with a Tyre hanging on both ends he used to sit patiently and wait for the Gorillas to walk under the tyre and drop it on them much to their humiliation, he used to catch the gardeners out too when they cleared the Gorillas deep litter.
One day however the male gorilla grabbed the tyre before he could let it drop pulling it sharply and he shot up twenty feet into the roof of his enclosure with much screaming and ariel posturing like a trapeze artist that had somehow worked a clown routine into his act.
I loved that old boy he really was a character. I went to visit him one day and I found his Keepers trying to revive him he was laid out on the floor of his enclosure lifeless, I was told that he had been posturing at his keeper and for no apparent (then) reason had dropped dead and fallen off his climbing frame. Even now I can relate to him and his manner of departure, but not his life, he should have been free to run as far as he liked, to climb as high as he liked and to do what he wanted. Regrettably as a wild caught baby and long term captive chimp, that could never have been.