On safari: In search of the vetpanzee

To say I am a little stressed right now is an understatement. They say moving is one of the most stressful life events there is, up there with death and divorce in terms of sheer ability to induce cortisol production. Combined with a bunch of other incredibly time consuming commitments I have no business doing without the advantage of a time machine that can give me an additional 10 hours each day, I’ve devolved into a mess who had a handful of Trader Joe Jo Jos and a glass of wine for dinner last night simply because it was all I could find at 10 pm when it finally occurred to me I should eat something.

Point is, I apologize for not writing as frequently as I normally do. It will get better, but not in the next couple of weeks. Unless you want to see posts entitled “Today I sat with my face buried in Brody’s neck and rocked back and forth for three hours” I don’t have a lot to say, because the only thing worse that packing is reading a post about packing.

So instead, I’m going to take a deep breath and rewind to one year ago today, when I posted one of my favorite posts of all times. Oh, to be a carefree vetpanzee once again. Enjoy.


On a quiet afternoon on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, the vetpanzee colony takes a siesta, safely hidden from hungry leopards in their thatch caves.

Vetpanzee sighting

All, that is, but one. A female, alone, restlessly paging through a vetpanzee favorite, In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall.

Note the concentration she devotes to her task. Vetpanzees are single minded in their pursuit of knowledge, at least sometimes. If they are not distracted by chocolate or puppies.

Unfortunately the click of the shutter annoys the vetpanzee, and with a hoot and a grunt she takes off down the beach. Vetpanzees are solitary creatures and do not like to be disturbed in their repose.

The photographer gives her a moment, then gives chase down a vetpanzee trail. Where did the she run off to?

The watering hole? Empty, at least until the evening congregation hour.

Gone for a swim? Unlikely. Vetpanzees are terrified of crocodiles.

Napping in an old nest? No, vetpanzees prefer new nests every night.

Vetpanzee nest

Ah. There, in the distance. A vetpanzee feeding ground. Perhaps she is there.

The other vetpanzees have awoken and are actively searching out food. Our photographer must be careful as he skirts the edges of the feeding ground not to disturb them as it appears the alpha male has made an appearance.

Vetpanzee nest

Our photographer spots fresh size 8 flip flop prints leading up into the cave. Upstairs, an alcove has been carved away and filled with the young vetpanzee’s favorite treat: words.

There is also pen and paper. This is promising. Has he found the fleeing vetpanzee?


He has. She is exhibiting classic happy vetpanzee behavior as she cradles another book.

Cornered, the vetpanzee stiffens. What are you reading, vetpanzee? Just let us look.

What nerds read at chimp camp

With a dangerous baring of teeth, the vetpanzee complies:

“Best Practices Guidelines for the Prevention and Mitigation of Conflict Between Humans and Great Apes.” (Vetpanzees are often nerdy.)

One tenet of such conflict prevention, by the way, is do not stalk and photograph the vetpanzee when she is trying to relax.

Filed: Adventures, Blog, Features, On Safari, Picks of the Litter Tagged: , ,
  • I am in awe of your accommodations. Is that a Buff you’re wearing on your head? So very practical, and Survivorish.

    • It is a buff! An impulse purchase and hands down my favorite thing I got for the trip. I wore it every single day.

  • Anne Ahiers

    ha- this is great. and *gasp* minneapolis?! i’m in St. Paul! when/where are you speaking?

    • VHA Expo tomorrow!

  • Sue W.

    Beautiful photos and beautifully narrated. You two are a natural pairing of talents. I especially like the 2nd photo – great lighting, great shot. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pawcurious/6259740488/) And I agree, the buff is great!

  • A fantastic job of documenting the habits of the vetpanzee. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lisa W

    Would love to hear your take on the Zanesville OH situation, especially in light of your expedition. BTW, they will be interviewing Tim Harrison on the Today Show in the morning. I really hope he’ll do a guest post for the blogathon!

  • Kolchak & Jodi

    LOL, what an adorable post! Looks like a breathtaking location.

  • Tamara

    Dr. V, you are so creative and clever, as all great vetpanzees are ๐Ÿ™‚ Beautiful location, awesome narration, a great tale all around. Give us more! When you have time. No rush ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Joe Avery

    Wonderful peak into the life and habits of the vetpanzee – such an interesting and intelligent creature, and so generous to share all of this wonder with us. I can wait (if I have to!) for all the stories and pictures. And Sue W. is right – the perfect pairing of talents. Thanks to your loving hubby, too!

  • That is around the time I started following your blog.
    Has it been a year already? Jeez, you must be entertaining or
    something! Sorry, I am just trying to help with your stress with bad
    jokes and all. I did think of you today, when I signed up for the Denver
    Gorilla Run. I cannot travel to see Gorilla’s, but I can dress like one
    for charity. (Too. much. fun.) Glad I can live vicariously through you
    ๐Ÿ™‚ (I might just have to add, see wild gorillas, to my goal list.)

  • Great post ……..