Petra was not quite 2 years old when she had her first surgical procedure-an amputation due to a finger caught in a cage. In 9 nine years Ch-560 was used in only 2 studies.
The first gave her a fever for a week that was left untreated. Shortly thereafter she was found to be chewing the paint off the wall, suffering from diarrhea and lack of appetite.
Despite her involvement in only 2 studies, she endured 185 knockdowns and 7 punch liver biopsies. Maybe this is why she spent her days circling her cage like a hamster in an exercise wheel, aggressively plucking most of her chest and arms bare of hair and rocking nervously in a constant state of stress and agitation.
Date of birth: February 24, 1988
Aka:Pettie, Sweet Potato
Personality: Petra is an incredibly intelligent chimpanzee. She is intuitive and does not miss much. She seems to know what you are planning before you even know -- always watching and waiting for someone to forget something or make a mistake. Petra is extremely self-confidant. Very courageous, she takes advantage of any opportunity. She loves to explore, observe and learn something new. Petra knows what she wants and knows how to get it, using all of her social skills.
Petra is a very beautiful chimpanzee with soft, copper color eyes and stunning long eyelashes. She was a skinny little girl when she moved to Fauna. While she has always had the structure of a much bigger chimpanzee, she was very thin. She has now filled out and is quite strong and powerful, not the frail little girl who arrived in 1997.
Petra is quite fragile emotionally, something that not many would ever suspect about her because of her temper and tough exterior. From the day she moved to Fauna, (and even before that when we met her in the lab), you could see that she was a frightened little girl who wanted desperately to trust someone. She managed to hide this soft side well by presenting a really tough and aggressive persona. Petra scared people with her threatening gestures, grabbing whenever possible, even spitting and displaying. When Petra displays everyone gets nervous. When she rocks and stands up with her hair standing on end making her look much larger than she is, she still manages to make everyone nervous. No one is happy when Petra is upset. She can easily clear a room with her temper.
Petra is Chance’s half sister. In the lab both girls had a terrible reputation. They were angry; they were aggressive; and, mostly, they were terribly frightened. Because of their behavior, they were isolated in separate units at the lab, living alone, away from all the other chimpanzees. Caged in this way, they also had minimal human interaction. This was very sad for both girls, and it has affected them for life. Their need for social interaction and love was denied for years. Now we work hard to help them recover from that horrible time in their lives.
When you meet a chimpanzee like Petra living all alone in her 5x5x7’ cage, it is easy to sense that she is desperate, lonely and terrified. The first time we saw Petra through the doors at the lab, it was hard to identify the being inside the cage. She was circling around and around like a hamster on a wheel, so quick, so frantic, so stressed. It was an image we will never forget -- a frightened little chimpanzee locked in her horrible life. Petra came to Fauna with many deep emotional scars from her life in the lab.
It takes total commitment to go to her and offer love and kindness knowing that you will be rejected or she will try to hurt you. With someone like Petra who cannot tolerate much and is very quick to anger, it takes a willingness to take the blows and keep coming back for more.
Until the day that she sees that you are worthy of her friendship, and more importantly, of her trust and love.
Petra loves and needs to be loved. Because she was so betrayed as a child by those she loved in the lab, it forced her to be aggressive as a way to defend her self. This is understandable and not at all unlike what human abused children might do. It took a lot of time to help her find the courage to trust again, since she had absolutely no reason to think any human being was trustworthy. Petra saw some pretty unforgivable behaviors from humans. She experienced the darker side of us, enduring a great deal of pain at the hands of humans. Petra has had to work very hard to overcome her trauma and rightful suspiciousness of human beings.
An interesting thing about Petra is that she loves to be in chimp social groups, but can also spend a tremendous amount of time alone in a room. In fact, Petra is some one who locks herself in a room, away from the rest of the group. Often she chooses solitude and the special human attention given to those alone in a room. It was during the times that Petra chose to be alone that we were able to form a deep and loving relationship with her.
Social Status: High position, she is part of a core group and in her group she is respected and has amazing social skills.
She is not always respectful of the adults and can cause huge fights because of this. She is impatient, aggressive and important.
Favorite Activities: Petra loves to try to get out. She looks for ways to open doors all the time.
She finds objects to pry with; jiggles locks to check to see if they are secure; and, waits patiently for humans to make a mistake. When she is not doing this, she is grooming, or being groomed -- usually by her ever loyal, constant companion, Yoko. He is extremely loyal to Petra, and she accepts his attachment likely because of his loyalty. Petra loves water to drink and to wet her body.
She loves to rest near the kitchen and human area to watch us and be close to the things she wants. Petra can be totally content for hours and hours when she is outside on the islands. Just like her sister Chance, she loves to rest on the platforms and enjoy the sun. Off and away from everyone, she watches over the open fields, naps in the afternoon, and enjoys the sweet sounds of summer.
Favorite Foods: Petra loves grapes, onions and lemons. She adores hot drinks, like tea and coffee, especially if she has a teaspoon or a stir stick, and a sugar packet to add herself. Petra self medicates with her food choices. She will often eat onions or lemons – onions are antioxidants and lemons are a great liver cleanser. We often see chimpanzees choosing a particular food for a period of time. They seem to know exactly what they need, which is why it is important that they are offered a variety of foods to choose from at each meal. Petra loves a party and all the fun foods served at a party, but for her it seems to have to do more with the excitement than the foods.