Cissy is one of the older females at Suaq, the mother of four daughters and matriarch to the “pretty hair” matriline. Cissy is currently taking care of Cinnamon, her youngest daughter who was born in 2012. As with her other three daughters, Cissy is a patient mother and an amazing role model, currently passing her vast skill repertoires on to Cinnamon.
Despite her age, Cissy is still very explorative and curious. She shows the largest tool use repertoire of all the orangutans at Suaq and an unmatched variety of other feeding techniques. Cissy also has the broadest diet of all the females at Suaq. In other words, Cissy knows best about what to eat when and where. She seems to have an amazing memory of the different fruit trees and lianas growing at Suaq throughout the forest. Cissy is gentle and kind to all the other females and their kids and seems always relaxed despite what happens around her.
Given her good nature, expertise and vast knowledge, it is not surprising that her daughters and granddaughters all like to spend time with her. Cissy always lets them feed and rest closely together, and the whole family often travels as a small group for many days in a row. Cissy also tolerates unrelated females nearby, such as Ellie or Raffi. During these party days (days in association with other orangutans), the moms will peacefully feed together while their kids play.
Especially when her daughters are getting to an age where they are interested in males, Cissy also lets young males join her travel party. This way, Cissy seems to be able to keep a watchful eye on her daughters and their new exciting friends. Cissy lets the males hang out with them as long as they behave. She is also known for her own friendships with certain unflanged males of whom she spends a lot of time in close and relaxed association. She will sometimes even share her nest with those males and her older infants.
However, when she she has had enough of her association partners, Cissy also knows many tricks to get her peace and quiet. She is an expert in sneaking off when she wants to avoid certain individuals like obtrusive males. She will make a day nest and seemingly rest in it for some time until the others have made nests as well. Cissy will then suddenly dart out of her nest, first running off quickly, then once out of sight, quietly hiding in a dense tree. As soon as the confused males have passed her, Cissy will leave her hiding place and quietly move in the opposite direction. She has also used that trick to get rid of us observers, even though most days she is totally fine with us following her.
Cissy is a highly tolerant and sociable, gentle old lady and surprises us constantly with her knowledge and many tricks. When following her, we are always excited to see what she will surprise us with next.