Loving Chimps Play And Entertain New Baby Addition
Need we be reminded that we can all relate to our closest relative in the animal kingdom, a creature that shares 98 percent of our genetic identity? Look at how loving this chimpanzee family is toward their baby. It could be a typical summer picnic for any suburban family.
Mom initiates the play, but dad can’t resist and soon joins in. The ancient rules of play apply here, just as they do in our own lives: to play with the baby, one must become the baby. Rolling in the grass, head to head, assuming the submissive postures so that Junior can win the mock battle. In every way we could easily substitute ourselves in the mix and we would know exactly what to do, what is expected of us.
It’s hard to tell if such life forms as snakes or sharks play with each other, much less play with their young ones. It’s very likely they don’t. But so many mammals do, from whales to apes, dogs and of course kittens, horses, cows, and all types of barnyard critters. There’s even a video of a baby goat using a goliath pig as a sort of hill. The pig lies tolerantly as the little wiseacre jumps onto his back, pounces up and down, then slides back to earth, only to repeat the play at the expense of the not-so-poor hog.
What lessons might be learned from this familial romp? Certainly at its heart is bonding, and the recognition of safety in the family. We hear so much about dysfunctional families. Perhaps it’s the dysfunctional family that leads to the expansion of the human race across the globe? For, if we could stand to be near the people we grew up with, wouldn’t we still be with them? And it could be that is precisely how cohesion of chimp tribes is reinforced, because every action they take and every mood they have is consequential to the group.
Because of their close relation to humans, at least on a primitive level, we can generalize chimp to human behaviors, extrapolating intent. Maybe it’s because their physical form is so similar to our own. It’s not just that we can understand in a poetic, purely emotional sense what Mowgli must be thinking when he arches himself like a cage over little Amari, but that if the chimps saw us doing the same to our own baby, or even to one of theirs, they would also know what we meant by it.
These creatures don’t have to pick up their cues from human example. Play is innate to their soul. Clearly the adults know how to be gruff, but not abusive. Play wrestling is interspersed with lying down together, chewing on straw, and pondering the movements and forms of the clouds overhead.
It looks as though a friendship is being permanently forged. Perhaps Mowgli looked into Amari’s eyes and said, “hey, little buddy,” and that was that! Instantly bonded, inseparable for life. Just the way it happens for us.