Chimp Stories

Love Stories: Tabu & Amber

Chimp Haven
Chimp Haven February 9, 2024

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and love is in the air at Chimp Haven! One of the wonderful things about life at the sanctuary is the friendships, families, bromances, and, yes, even romances, that develop between the retirees. We hope you enjoy a few of our favorite recent love stories.

It’s a classic storyline straight out of a movie: Cute new girl moves into the neighborhood and falls for the town’s handsome athlete. (Except in this case, the characters are chimps, and the new girl is mostly in it for the fruit juice. But don’t worry, the handsome athlete doesn’t seem to mind.)

Thirty-five-year-old Amber came to the sanctuary at the end of 2022. She was one of ten chimpanzees lovingly nicknamed the Treetop Ten who made their way to Chimp Haven from Los Angeles when their former home at the Wildlife Waystation permanently closed.

Amber is a tiny chimp, and as she got settled in at Chimp Haven, she seemed shy and reserved – but later, when she was introduced to her new family in Tabu’s group, this girl blossomed.

Small, reserved Amber quickly showed a spicier personality when introduced to Tabu’s group

Gone was the quiet, reserved chimp who arrived at the sanctuary, and taking her place was a bold, feisty girl who quickly won over her new groupmates.

“She’s very popular,” says Caregiver Rebecca Bailey. “She quickly became the hot topic on the street. Even the boys across the hall are obsessed with her.”

One of the first chimps to become smitten with her was group alpha, 32-year-old Tabu. Tabu is a friendly, chill guy who doesn’t necessarily relish his alpha role, but willingly serves as a great conflict mediator for his group. He’s a friend to all and enjoys playing and grooming with all his groupmates.

Thanks in part to the sparse hair along his inner arms, he also looks remarkably fit and toned, and when paired with Amber’s small stature, he looks even more buff. Tabu quickly took a shine to Amber, and while Amber seems to prefer being a bit of a loner, she knows a good thing when she sees it.

Tabu looks like a tough guy, but this even-keeled alpha is a great friend to his groupmates

It wasn’t long after they met that Amber began physically climbing into Tabu’s lap during his positive reinforcement training sessions with his caregivers. Most chimps simply wouldn’t tolerate another chimp coming between them and the tasty fruit juice and snacks that are doled out during training sessions, but Tabu didn’t bat an eye.

“It’s really kind of sweet,” shared Positive Reinforcement Training Technician Sarah Modlin. “She fits perfectly and he was completely unphased – it was like, ‘of course you can sit here.’”

Amber’s gotten so comfortable cozying up to Tabu during his training sessions, she even claps at his trainer to indicate she’s ready for her own squirt of fruit juice.

“She’s definitely gotten more comfortable,” says Rebecca. “She’s settled in and her spice has come out; she knows exactly what she wants, and she knows she’s got us wrapped around her finger.”

“Recently Tabu had to be temporarily separated from his group to address a medical issue,” said Sarah. “When he was gone Amber tried to sneak into Mousse’s lap during his training session and it didn’t go over as well. He looked puzzled, like ‘what are you doing?’”

Thankfully Tabu is now back with his group, and all is well in the world. Amber has taken back her rightful place in his lap.

Chimp Haven
Chimp Haven