Unbounded, Adventurous, Curious
January 19, 2005
The youngest ape at the Center, Bobby-Stryker also has the unique distinction of being the only ape at the sanctuary actually raised by his own ape mother. In March 2005, Stryker arrived at the sanctuary riding on the belly of his mother Jessie when he was only 6 weeks old. He was an unexpected addition because the trainer who sent Jessie to us did not know she was pregnant until the baby was born! Had little Stryker remained in the entertainment world, he would have undoubtedly been removed from Jessie to be hand raised for training purposes – a practice which can be stressful and damaging to both mother and infant. But, now living at the Center, Stryker will live with his mother and family group permanently.
Sanctuaries ethically don’t promote or allow reproduction due to the financial responsibility for the life of an infant (could be 50 to 60 years for chimpanzees). For this reason, all the males at the Center have been vasectomized or the females are on birth control. So, it is a rare and special gift for both chimpanzees and staff to observe this infant being raised naturally by his own family. And, it greatly enriches the adults in his group.
Stryker is always under the watchful eyes of his mother (Jessie), aunt (Boma), and grandmother (Oopsie). In his first years here, he would frequently hitch rides on the backs of his grandmother Oopsie or the adult males Bubbles and Sam. He has become very brave and independent, but is still quick to run to Jessie or another adult for reassurance when something frightens him.
Since Stryker is the primary focus of Jessie and Boma, they groom him frequently, sometimes over-grooming him and pulling hairs right off his head!
His favorite playmate is his big sister Kodua, and they play constant games of chase and tickle. If they have blankets or t-shirts for enrichment, the babies often play a variation of “blind man’s bluff”. With blankets or shirts over their heads, they like to blindly walk around their habitat bumping into each other and the very patient adults.
Stryker nursed on his mother in the evenings for comfort until he was six years old, but has been eating solid foods since he was about ten months old. All the adults (but not Kodua) allow him to take bites of food from them while they’re eating, and his favorite foods are beets, corn, and any fruit.
Sam was especially tolerant and playful with Stryker and appeared to truly enjoy interacting with him. Now, Stryker lives with the males Bubbles and Ripley and often imitates them. When the adult males “display” and march around pushing tubs and throwing things with great bravado and power, Stryker pushes toys around right behind them, trying to make noise and looking like an alpha male.