Monday, May 18, 2009
Ripley: The Guy that Wants to be Leader
As with all my blogging, please note that what I have written below comes from my observations and public articles I've read or viewed, and not from the LA Zoo itself. My blogs are not affiliated with the Los Angeles Zoo. I am not an expert, only a quiet observer, and reader on great apes. LA Zoo is near my residence and has been a convenient and wonderful place for me to observe these wonderful creatures. I began observing them when I started walking at the LA Zoo for my health. (The zoo's beauty and life kept me motivated to keep walking.) The great apes grabbed my attention, and so I began researching outside articles and videos as I continued to observe these incredible animals. Thus, my blogs.
This is Ripley, born March 23, 1996, to Pandora and Judeo. He was also a surprise birth because Pandora had a birth control implant. His siblings are Regina, Gracie, and Jerrard. When he was younger, being the youngest of his family, he was given a lot of attention, and got away with many mischievous things. His best friend for some time was Glenn … until the Alpha Male dominance struggle between he, Shaun, and Glenn began. He is missing a bit of hair on the back of his neck and has a scar above the upper lip on the right from dominance struggles.
As I've written previously, Jerrard, Ripley's big brother, was once Alpha male, but that position was taken over by the biggest guy of the tribe, Shaun. Shaun later gave the position to his little brother Glenn. But, big guy Shaun helps keep that position with his little brother by his intimidating size and standing up for his brother when he feels the need. For, it is important to keep the position in the family because he is still assured access to the females and the best food choices, etc. Of course, Jerrard and Ripley want the position in their family, which, based on size and the age of their mother, Pandora (42), is the dominant family, anyway. So, Ripley displays and challenges Glenn or Shaun quite frequently, causing some tension in the group ... just as was found in the wild troop Jane Goodall once followed. In studying the wild troop, it is obvious that the male tension and struggles for dominance are very normal and help keep the males strong and good protectors of the group.
Needless to say, instead of Ripley continuing as Glenn's best friend, he has become the thorn in Glenn's side. For a couple of years now, Ripley has tested Glenn. He is even as bold as to grab a female right in front of Glenn and Shaun ... which is quite a no-no in chimp politics. For, in chimp world, if a non-dominant male wants romance, he'd better get it secretly, away from the Alpha's eyes. Such behavior irates Glenn and Shaun, and invariable causes a spat.
I have very few pics of Ripley ... the only one with him alone is above. The others have him among some other members of his chimpanzee group.
Ripley (seated with an apple already in his mouth):
Ripley in profile (seated against the wall, with Zoe in front of him, and his sister Regina behind him):