Sunday, February 5, 2012

From the Writings of Jane Goodall

Saturday Feb 3rd 2012, it is sunny today, I am tired from a difficult night. 
Before he leaves for the forest, my partner lays a fine layer of Kix in the clearing of the jungle floor to occupy the baby gorillas til I wake. I soon wake and, putting on my slippers, take leave of my tent. I grab my notebook for further observations and head to the jungle clearing where the 3 baby gorillas are gathered. The baby gorillas are finishing their paltry offerings and are excited to see me. I bring bananas. I sit on the jungle floor with the natives crawling all around me, giving them banana offerings out of my hand. The smallest gorilla will feed from my hand. The older ones will only take with raking grasps or pincher fingers to put to lips.

It seems Jane and I have much in common
Soon the natives grow weary of the feeding game and come ever so close. One of the big ones, we named him James, even becomes so brazen as to crawl right on top of me in search of more banana, I smell his fetid, stinking pee from the night before, he is soaked through and needs to be hosed down---- he finds the peel and begins in on it. The other two see that the big one has found a chewy treat and begin their strategic assault. Legs over legs they pummel each other for the prize. In the end they all end up with a piece of banana peel to chew and are perfectly content, until I remove the offering. I am repulsed by their desire to chew a starchy, sour and flavorless peel. They are angry with me. The little one turns his back to me. I begin to change them and prepare them for the day. An even bigger gorilla (female-Hazel) comes to me, hunger in her eyes, they seem to say, where is breakfast? What did you make me? The big female distracts the angry little gorilla while I change the others and then turn my efforts to reclaiming the tiny gorillas lost love.

I take the gorillas into my lab, strapping them into small chairs with trays and begin preparing toast and jam in tiny unchokeable pieces. The babies are quick to consume the little jams and soon sticky faces and fingers glare at me. The older female gorillas take their food wearily as the jam is a new kind they have never tried, marmalade and are not sure if they like the looks of it. I decide it is time for the 3 little gorillas to try drinking from an open cup. I fill a cup with water and each has a turn sipping, gulping, spilling, choking. The littlest the youngest one is the best at it. He gets it right away. The older male is too eager and chokes. The small female is too happy and just smiles up at me. (Hard to drink while you are smiling up at someone.)

I unstrap the baby gorillas one at a time and bring them to the sink to wash hands and faces. Eager hands reach for a stream of water as I wash them at the sink, tiny tongues lap out as I bring water to face for the wash. I set each gorilla to ground and pull out the next one. They each chimp away, like wind up toys eager to see the world. (And eat any small leavings by the big female gorillas, pieces of tape, stickers, etc... Oh how will I keep these alive?)
Trays come off and are washed. Bibs set aside for next time, crumbs wiped off chairs.

Such is life in the jungle.

P.S. I read this to my sweet husband before I posted it. I didn't preface it, I just started reading  (I also hadn't added any of the gorillas names yet.) His eyes got big as saucers. "Honey! That is just like our life!!" I knew N8 was a little gullible but I think he reached a new and horridly exploitable level of vulnerability- if he thought this was jove, IT'S ON. I love you Nathan.

While our heroine "Jane" bravely examines a baby gorilla for the emergence of teeth, the gorilla is intent on dentistry of his own