Date of birth: November 30, 1982
Personality: Rachel is a sweet, warm, and loving chimpanzee, with many wonderful qualities. She is nurturing, loyal and compassionate. She does not enjoy a group and prefers one friend at a time or being alone. She is extremely sensitive and responds to many different situations with a great deal of anxiety. Rachel is a chimpanzee whose life has been altered and damaged in so many ways by her past. It has left her with deep emotional scars which remind us daily of her pain and anguish.
Rachel’s on-going despair and fragile sense of well-being even now safe in sanctuary, reminds us that what humans do to chimpanzees can torment them forever. Rachel self mutilates, has outbursts of anxiety and fear, and over reacts to most situations. She cannot cope in a social group for more than a few hours, preferring a room alone, with the door closed.
Rachel spends hours alone in a room, by her choice. Locking others out, she relaxes and keeps her self amused. For weeks at a time, Rachel will carry a glove with her, amusing herself by throwing it in the air and catching it, then placing it in her pelvic pocket – the place a chimpanzee would carry a baby or other valued possession. We have seen Rachel become very attached to and dependant on certain items. When she arrived at Fauna in 1997, Rachel pulled a tire around with her everywhere she went, a kind of security blanket.
The first time she went outside onto the island, 8 years after she arrived here, she needed to bring her tire along. Rachel then progressed to a glove and recently to a plush toy gorilla. The gorilla has been quite a step forward for Rachel.
Rachel is misunderstood by the other chimps and it is a patient and caring soul who can tolerate her violent or self abusive outbursts -- exceptional individuals like our Annie (matriarch of the group). When Annie was alive, she had a big influence over and was a care giver for Rachel. Fellows like Jethro or Toby are also wonderful and extremely tolerant and understanding, rarely acting out against Rachel. Others do not seem to understand and lose their patience with her. Too often, Rachel ends up screaming in fear after a failed social interaction.
In the early years, Rachel would lock herself in a room and have horrible outbursts of anxiety. She would be inconsolable and would be completely zone out -- disassociated. We were usually left very concerned for her well being. These episodes are greatly reduced now. Rachel canactually spend time alone in a room and seem content. She is also now able to tolerate a stranger coming into the building. There was a time when anything or anyone new would instantly set her off. Today she seems more secure and far less stressed by a change in her routine. She has a long way to go, but she has come a very long way too.
Rachel is a beautiful chimpanzee, with perfect features and lovely soulful eyes. She is loving and loyal and a good friend to those who want to spend time with her. This includes her human friends, of which she has many. So many people who work at Fauna or who have volunteered or visited have become very attached to this very special chimpanzee, with all of her emotional problems from the trauma of her past. People embrace and love her for who she is and that is the best gift that Rachel could ever get in her sanctuary life.
Social Status: Very low ranking, her personality makes it hard for her to be accepted. Rachel can go into most groups but eventually her abnormal behavior and lack of social skills puts her in an extremely threatening position.
Favorite Activities: Rachel absolutely loves grooming her chimpanzee family and her human friends. Rachel adores picking folks nails, either with her own fingers or with her teeth. She can spend hours working on finger nails or toe nails. It takes a tolerant chimpanzee to sit and have his or her nails chewed by Rachel.
Sadly something Rachel does to herself is to bite or rub her own fingernails completely off. She will lay for hours doing this, leaving her with no nails at all on her fingers or her toes. It is far better when she is with someone else, grooming them instead of obsessively and self-injuriously picking at her own body. Sadly, obsessive over grooming to the point of injury is not uncommon for captive chimpanzees.
Rachel is great to have around if you have a wound that needs attention. She loves to take care of things like that, very concerned about the individual who has been hurt. Taking care of others is one of the things that Rachel enjoys the most. She is very sensitive and nurturing.
Rachel loves to be outdoors. She can spend everyday from morning until night outside. She especially likes time spent with one or two friends, not more than that though. She will take her favorite supplies out with her to the nearest structure and stay there until lunch. Often she takes out food, a bottle of water or box of juice, and of course her tire, glove or gorilla.
Since Rachel’s first days out on the islands in the summer of 2006, she has changed a lot. She is so much calmer when she can spend the day outside, far away from the activity and daily stress inside the chimp house. This has been a breakthrough time for Rachel, giving her much needed open space and a chance to be alone without being locked in a room. This new place to go, with trees, flowers, grass, water and all of the wonderful smells and sounds of nature has provided Rachel and the others with a new outlook on life. It has been a wonderful experience for all of us to be a part of.
On the island, Rachel loves to watch the Fauna geese walking around. Who would imagine a chimpanzee and a goose living in harmony? But at Fauna, the geese and the chimps have some sort of arrangement that probably goes something like,” If you don’t bother us, we promise not to bother you.”
It is lovely to watch Rachel lay on the structure, with her head propped on her hands, relaxing and watching the geese. Rachel is not usually alone on the island. Mostly she spends time with her constant companion and dear friend, Toby. He is always there for Rachel, staying with her, eating with her and enjoying his days near her.
Favorite Foods: Rachel, just like most chimpanzees raised in a human home environment, chooses human foods like lasagna, soup, cooked vegetables, muffins, etc. Rachel likes foods in packages too. It is always a treat to get a bag with her lunch or breakfast in it. This seems to be a lot of fun for her.
Rachel loves juice boxes, applesauce, oatmeal with baked apples, and just about anything anyone takes the time to make for her. She is wonderful to serve since she appreciates so many things and always seems to get such pleasure from her meals.
Rachel (like some others) has a hard time going a day without bananas. There are some folks at Fauna that have no desire for bananas, but Rachel is not one of them. She adores them and has an amazing technique for eating them. She leaves a group of 3 or 4 bananas on their stem and eats the fruit right out, leaving the skin nearly intact with just a split down the side. She is very neat and orderly in her enjoyment.