One sign of Bow's maturity is his frequent displays. But another sign of maturity is that he can decide that he's displayed enough, and it is time to move on. When Bow is done with that, nothing that Leo contrives in order to re-ignite him is going to work. Bow has self-control.
After active exercise, many lazy hours are spent enjoying a nap in the sun. Bow is secure in the knowledge that his needs are provided for and that he is a valued member of the family.
Lately I have been reminiscing about how all this began.
Bow was a month old when he came to join our family. He was completely helpless at the time. In a few months, he learned to walk.
Early development in chimpanzees is much faster than in humans, and Bow has always been a natural gymnast.
Bow traveled with us to New Hampshire to attend a linguistics conference, and he has always been very affectionate, adventuresome, but careful not to fall into water.
When Bow moved into the pens, that is when he became most literate, and yet he never ceased to be part of the family.
Because we depend in part on the sales of books, I encourage anyone who has a small child in the family and another child on the way to buy the story of how my daughter first met Bow. A new baby in the family -- human or not -- can be a big adjustment.
But did you know that you can help in other ways? If you follow the link to Amazon, you can vote down the negative "review" posted there by an animal rights activist. Commitment to a chimpanzee -- or to any other creature or person in your life -- means not abandoning them as they grow and develop and change through different stages. Not everyone is capable of that kind of commitment. Sometimes people who cannot commit try to make trouble for people who can.
Was that person's negative experience inevitable? What would be the most compassionate way to respond to those remarks? Sometimes I think I should write a book about potty training. How many people have failed to get through that one stage of development with their chimpanzee or their human child? How much unhappiness is still just a result of not being able to get over that one little hurdle? Would that poor reviewer have had a completely different experience with their own chimpanzee if only they had had a little guidance in that one area of life?
As it is, Bow is well trained, but he also has constant companionship. This means I have to be in the pens twelve hours a day to supervise, and he is never alone, because when I am not there, he has Lawrence.
Sometimes people ask me how I can stand to be so cooped up. In fact, it was much harder at first, in 2007, when Bow first was confined, than it is now, eight years later. I have grown used to our living arrangement, as has Bow, and we have found ways to accommodate each other's needs to not always be engaged in the same activity while spending our time together. Life in the pens is good.