The Real First Day of Spring

April 17th, 2015 by J.B.

March 20th may have marked the first official day of spring, but around here we follow a different calendar. It’s not truly spring until the ever-elusive Negra emerges from her playroom nest to bask in the sun and partake in the delicacy of fresh spring grass.

The first sighting is always accompanied by jubilant announcements over staff radios and a frantic search for cameras to document the occasion.


Of course, Negra has already gone out on the hill for forages this year, but always with a laser-like focus on collecting food and going back to bed indoors as quickly as possible. When spring arrives, she savors her time outside.


For a few short weeks, the grass will be sweet and tender. The cold winds of spring will begin to relent, and the scorching heat of summer will have yet to arrive.


This is Negra Weather™, and we will all relish every minute of it while it lasts. For soon, she will disappear back into the pile of blankets from whence she came, only to reemerge when the conditions are just right.


So, from Negra and all of us at CSNW, Happy First Day of Spring!

Happy Birthday, Jayne!

April 17th, 2015 by Katelyn

This day of sanctuary was sponsored by Jayne Roepke! Jayne is such a good friend to the chimpanzees and is always looking for opportunities to make their lives better (as well as the lives of the humans who care for them!). Today also happens to be Jayne’s birthday and we are touched and honored to share such a special day with her.

Jayne shared this beautiful message for today:

“April 17th is my birthday and I’d like to sponsor that day in honor of other supporters (like me) who simply marvel at the endearing chimpanzee beings who are fortunate to call CSNW their home (as well as others who may follow.) I greatly appreciate your willingness to allow ‘regular folks’ to actively participate in the lives of these precious souls. I get so much joy watching their lives unfold before our eyes. They have taught me so much about the power of forgiveness and perseverance.”

Jayne, we hope you have the happiest of birthdays! Thank you so much for celebrating your life by honoring not only the chimpanzees, but all the amazing supporters who grace their lives. What a lovely thing to do! We are privileged to be surrounded by so many compassionate individuals who all make the chimpanzees’ lives here in sanctuary possible.

Beautiful Jody:


Foxie the Brave

April 16th, 2015 by Elizabeth

In the three and a half years since we opened Young’s Hill, the chimpanzees’ two-acre outdoor habitat, the chimps have become more and more comfortable with the wide open space it provides. It didn’t happen immediately for many of them. After living for thirty years in climate-controlled buildings, touching nothing but steel and concrete, it takes time to adjust to the feeling of wind through your hair, or hot sun on your back, or rain. Not to mention how vulnerable and exposed they must have felt in such a huge space – it wouldn’t have been surprising if one or more of the chimps decided not to venture out at all.

But they did go outside, and they have continued to go outside on most days since we first opened the hill. They have gradually become more at ease with things that they wouldn’t tolerate in the early days, like wind and rain and cold temperatures. Almost four years later, they’re still making strides.

In the last couple of weeks, Foxie has been pushing the boundaries of her own personal comfort zone and spending more time alone on Young’s Hill. Until recently, she has stayed near the bottom of the hill, closer to the familiar chimp house, during her excursions outside. The other day, though, I was on a perimeter walk with Jamie and we found Foxie all alone at the very top of the hill, calmly and methodically exploring. I thought she might be relieved to see us, and join us on our walk back down to the chimp house, but she remained up there by herself, walking around in the grass. There are certain moments when one of the chimps surprises you in the best way, and that was one of them.

Today really feels like spring in Cle Elum – warm temperatures and a pleasant breeze – so we set up a lunch forage on Young’s Hill. Foxie was one of the last ones to remain outside after the others had gone back into the greenhouse with their food.









Not everyone has the time for a siesta

April 15th, 2015 by Katelyn

After lunch today everyone spent time soaking up the warmth of the greenhouse. Stretched out in the heat and dozing, bellies were full and eyes were heavy. Beautiful Missy wasn’t asleep, but she gave me the rare gift of a quiet moment with her. And the even rarer gift of a quiet moment in front of the camera.






But not everyone has time for siestas. While the rest of us were enjoying a leisurely moment, Ellie was hard at work. She and Jim, from A-1 Petroleum and Propane, were busy with our propane delivery.


And just between us, I am pretty sure Ellie has a crush. Ellie is a pretty friendly lady, but she was completely smitten with her new pal, Jim. I think she might have gone home with him if she could have gotten in his truck.


Take Action Tuesday: Speak up for Eli chimpanzee

April 14th, 2015 by Debbie

EOA take action tuesday

A few weeks ago, we alerted you to a new Comedy Central show called Big Time in Hollywood, FL, with reported footage of a chimpanzee in several scenes. We know now that chimpanzee is Eli, who lives at a training facility called Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife.

One of the actors from the show, Lenny Jacobson, identified Eli in an interview where he talked about the experience filming with a chimpanzee. He mentioned that the trainer on set was missing a finger from a chimpanzee bite—which isn’t shocking given the true nature of chimpanzees. Chimpanzees are very strong, and once they become too hard to manage, trainers will discard them at roadside zoos or pseudo-sanctuaries.


Eli’s trainer has a history of dumping former nonhuman ape actors at very decrepit facilities, including Walter, who was found kept in a dark, barren, concrete pit filled with garbage at a roadside zoo. Eli’s trainers also have repeatedly failed to meet minimal animal welfare standards. (

There’s still time to act—the episodes with Eli’s scenes have not aired yet. Please send a polite letter to the producers and to Lenny Jacobson letting them know that chimpanzees should not be used in entertainment. Not only are there numerous welfare concerns, but seeing chimpanzees dressed up in clothing and in physical contact with humans perpetuates the idea that they can be treated as pets.

Your letters do work! Another alert we sent out last month regarding a McDonald’s France commercial with Suzy (who lives with the same trainer as Eli) was pulled after they received feedback from Eyes on Apes supporters and other advocacy groups. Great victory! We hope to see Big Time in Hollywood, FL make the same progressive decision.

We’ve set up a sample letter which you can customize as you wish (click here). You may also post on the show’s Facebook page.

The Boss at Rest

April 13th, 2015 by Elizabeth

Jamie can be a little high-strung. As the boss of the group, it’s her job to make sure everything runs the way (she believes) it should, and to make sure everyone’s behaving themselves.

But Jamie also knows the importance of rest. During quiet moments, she often takes the opportunity for a quick siesta before she’s called to attend to the next dispute.





Sometimes choosing the best photos is hard

April 12th, 2015 by Keri

In any given day I may take one hundred or more pictures of the chimpanzees and secretly hope that at least half do not turn out. It’s not that I do not want one hundred pictures of the chimps, it’s just that it is so much harder to go through them and select the ones to use for the blog. There can be twenty of the same chimp doing almost the same exact thing, just at a slightly different angle or at varying degrees of zoom. Today was one of those days when so many of the pictures of Burrito turned out that it made choosing the best photos seem almost impossible. So, I figured I would post the photos of him and let all of you decide which ones are the best (don’t worry, I narrowed the number down from the thirty original photos).

Burrito was being so patient, seemingly turning on the charm while he was being photographed.








Do you have a favorite?

Missy now and then

April 11th, 2015 by Diana

I took this photo of Missy a few nights ago when she had joined Jamie for some “after hours” walking around the hill. I was trying to figure out why I love the photo so much (aside from the obvious cuteness of Missy from behind).

Missy bipedal from behind

Today, while on another walk, I think I figured it out – it reminds me of a photo we took a few months after the chimpanzees arrived during a big rainstorm. It was before there was a Young’s Hill and before there were greenhouse panels covering their original “outdoor area” that we now call the greenhouse. The outdoors and the elements were a whole new experience for all of the chimps, and, without the greenhouse roof that exists now, the rain was pouring into this area.

Chimpanzees don’t tend to appreciate getting wet, and all of the chimps stayed indoors for most of the storm, but curiosity soon got the best of Missy, Annie, and Jamie. Missy was first to look out the door into the still dripping outside world:

Missy in doorway during rainstorm

At the time, I remember how thrilled J.B. and I were that the chimpanzees were experiencing something brand new. We were thrilled that they were able to gather the courage to follow their curiosity. And we knew that this was  just one new experience in a whole line of new experiences they would be facing.

Still, I had no idea exactly what was to come into their lives, thanks to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest supporters. I had no idea that Missy would embrace the two-acre outdoor habitat that was just beginning to be a kernel of an idea for the future.

I had no idea that six and half years later, Missy would run with glee across the 2-acres everyday:

Missy running


Exploring her territory:

Missy walking



Satisfying her curiosity:

confident Missy walking

I can’t wait to see what Missy and her six friends get to experience next, and what the next six and a half years will bring to the sanctuary.



A zoo for an elk

April 10th, 2015 by J.B.

Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is not open to the public like a zoo. In general, we like to give the chimps their privacy. When we do allow visitors, we limit the frequency of the visits and the size of the groups, and we always ensure that the group is guided by a staff member that the chimps know and trust.

But we have one visitor that doesn’t abide by our rules.

Most mornings throughout the spring and summer, Ellie the wild elk can be found laying beneath the visitor shelter, waiting for the chimps to finish their breakfast and head out onto the hill. She seems to enjoy watching them, and they in turn have at least grown accustomed to her. In fact, we have even seen Jamie and Ellie taking a walk together around the hill without us.

Jamie and Ellie:


Burrito and Ellie:


Ellie and Jody:


Ellie, Jamie, and Missy:


So I guess – just this once! – we’ll make an exception to our visitor policy. It’s not like we could do anything about it anyway…




Changing perspectives

April 9th, 2015 by Katelyn

It’s hard to imagine the chimpanzees once being so different from who we know them to be today. I think this on most days, and yet every day they each show us another dimension of themselves. These seven individuals, so full of life, personality, courage and intelligence spent decades forced to live on the periphery of their lives. But with each passing season they become more fully themselves.

A year or so ago, and for some of the chimpanzees even less, we would not have had to “squint” to see who was out on Young’s Hill, so far away they appear a mere speck among the greenery. This season in particular, the chimpanzees seem to be embodying a spring of their own, literally changing and growing by the day.







All the chimpanzees (with the exception of Negra for whom the outdoor temperatures are still not quite warm enough) enjoyed wandering far and wide on Young’s Hill after breakfast this morning. They often head out as a troop at this time, but where they used to stick together, they much more frequently spread out to take in their own adventure while just keeping an eye on one another. But that said, once someone starts to head back to the greenhouse the others often follow.

Missy (L) and Jamie (R):


From left to right: Annie, Missy, and Jamie






When they all headed back inside this morning I greeted each of them as they passed by and quickly realized Foxie was missing from the group. I stood up, my eyes scanning the hill for a sign of her, and I finally spotted her at the very top of the furthest climbing structure, perfectly content and enjoying her solitude with Dora and Troll.


When she saw that I had spotted her, she gave me a head nod and play slapped the platform as she shook Dora in my direction. I nodded back to her in acknowledgement and waited for her to eventually make her way back to the chimp house. In such moments I don’t think I could fully express all that is in my heart in seeing each of their hearts and souls blooming. Knowing what an immense journey it has been, and continues to be for each of them. The chimpanzees help remind me to accept things as they are each day. But to always hold the space, the expectation, and the hope for the ever changing gifts of each passing season.