david and gelb

David and Gelb lived in two cages next to Ellie and JC. These guys were big, big adult male chimps. Although Gelb was much larger than David, he was the subordinate. He often lost fights to David, and would cry like a small child afterward. Mostly, these two got along famously. Because A section was an easily-accessible area with high traffic, David and Gelb (and everyone else) got a lot of attention, and were the favorites of many.

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[After years,] David and Gelb . . . left A section. They were moved to C section, which was inhabited by a majority of aggressive, young adult males. David and Gelb had grown very accustomed to their quiet surroundings in A section, and moving to C was a big shock for them. They were given one set of indoor/outdoor cages, instead of the two they’d grown to enjoy in A, and they also had to get used to the noticeably restricted flow of traffic in C section. By most reports, they were quite depressed in their new home. I visited them twice. Both times the males living on either side of my friends became so agitated and desirous of my attention that they threw handfuls of feces at Gelb through the mesh partition separating the cages. Gelb became very upset himself, so I decided that I’d let them try to work things out without the complication of my visits.

Not very long after David and Gelb were moved, Gelb was placed on a study. He was taken to what was called the Met Room, which was full of metabolism cages. The met cages were chimp-sized — approximately 5 x 5 x 6 feet – with a ‘squeeze back’ similar to the monkey cages, except that this squeeze was operated by a motor. Gelb was terribly unhappy to be isolated in this manner, away from his new home and his old friend, and so he began to destroy the cage. He shook the cage and pulled on the bench inside it until the bolts started to give, and as a result was sedated and moved to a new met cage. When Gelb awoke from his anesthesia, he set to work destroying that cage as well. It was decided that he should be removed and the cage would be reinforced, and so Gelb was sedated again and placed in an empty cell in D section. D section was notorious for its adult males even more aggressive and unfriendly than C section. Gelb woke up in a cage in D section, where he’d never been before, and without David. Meanwhile, another met cage was prepared for Gelb and after a day or so he was returned to the met room, where he destroyed yet another cage. It was finally decided that Gelb would be semi-sedated for the duration of the study — another two weeks. And he was.

Rachel Weiss

1998