I like to learn at least one thing everyday – at least one. That way when I spend an hour absorbed by the anthropological field experiement that is Flavor of Love, I can feel that I did at least one worthwhile thing that day.

Today I learned that chimps can go bald.


This is Cinder. She lives at the St. Louis Zoo. I came across her photo when I googled “smoke” and “chimp,” in my quest to find the perfect pic of a chimp smoking a cigar, circa 1950, to use as my avatar.

Cinder has alopecia areata, a skin condition that makes some (or, in this case, all) of an animal’s hair and fur fall out. About 1.7 per cent of all humans have the exact same condition, including (apparently) Humphrey Bogart, Billy Zane, Christopher Reeve, and Charlie Villanueva, a basketball player who used to play for the Toronto Raptors who founded his own charity for kids who have to grow up bald.

Chimps always look like people to me – but this photo is certainly the most human-like I’ve ever seen an ape look. And she certainly looks like an awfully good-natured chimp. Her sweet dewey eyes look unmistakeably friendly.

Wouldn’t you think she’d be pissed off to be bald – and cold? Apparently not. Zookeepers say she gets long just fine with her troop. Not one chimp seems to care that she has no fur – even when she looks so dramatically different from the rest. It certainly didn’t bother her parents – she was apparently so doted on that the zookeepers considered her “spoiled.”

The chimp on the right in this pic, I’m pretty sure, is Tammy, Cinder’s foster sister. When the new little chimp arrived at the zoo, according to their website, “Tammy was immediately taken with Cinder and spent a lot of her time with her hairless sister. Even new chimpanzees didn’t care that Cinder had no hair.”

Altogether now: aaaawwww…

Chimps might be the most violent of all the apes (second only to humans – that honour will forever be ours). They might even get drunk and kill babies. But at least they don’t care about what they look like. Wish I could say the same about us.