First snow day

November 24th, 2015 by Katelyn

We all woke up to a couple inches of snow this morning and while the chimpanzees were not interested in going outside today, they were interested in eating the snow! Missy, Burrito and Annie were ready and waiting when I opened the door to Young’s Hill and immediately started food grunting when they saw the snow. They each took turns stretching out of the doorway to grab handfuls of the fluffy stuff. After breakfast was served, Jamie came in to nest bringing along of cup of snow to go that she had gathered:


Some of the chimps don’t mind collecting their own snow, but others are quick to figure out it’s much easier to just ask their caregivers to fetch it for them. Foxie sat at the window blowing raspberries with gusto until I brought a bucket in for them to snack on. After cleaning, we filled buckets with snow and sunflower and pumpkin seeds and you should have heard the excitement!




Jody inspected her options before relaxing with a big mouthful on the stairwell:




Burrito’s plan was to just grab a bucket and shovel in as much as possible:


And Foxie made the rounds and spent time at several buckets:


If you look closely, you can see Foxie rubbing her happy toes together.


And of course eating all that snow can make a person cold! So after the snow fest (which included snow in cowgirl boots!), Jamie bundled up to get warm:


I couldn’t get any photos of Negra as she is now frequenting her “winter” nesting area which is, of course, in a cozy corner out of sight. But rest assured the Queen had grabbed herself her very own bucket of snow snacks to enjoy from the comfort of her nest.

Take Action: Trunk Monkey Ads

November 24th, 2015 by Diana

Take Action Tuesday banner


Today, we’re asking for your help. We’ve reached out to the Suburban Auto Group multiple times over the years about their “Trunk Monkey” ads using chimpanzees who were abused during their years in entertainment.


web_chimp-driving-car-trunk-monkey-no-sign copy     No Trunk Monkey


Instead of listening to our concerns, retiring the old and tired campaign, and coming up with more creative advertising, the car dealership outside of Portland, Oregon keeps bringing the Trunk Monkey ads back.

Please help us in continuing to reach out to them today by learning more and sending a polite email to Erinn Sowle, Suburban Auto Group’s general manager, via this page.

Thank you for speaking out and sharing the action alert with your contacts. Your voice makes a difference!


Burrito’s Tug-of-War Massage

November 23rd, 2015 by Whitney

Today before lunch Burrito and staff caregiver J.B. played a nice long game of tug-of-war with a scarf. Burrito will often wrap the scarf around various parts of his body during this game so the caregiver can give him a little massage. Today he wanted to focus on his upper back and arms.

As per usual

November 22nd, 2015 by Keri

I wasn’t sure what sort of reaction I would get from the chimpanzees when I arrived at the sanctuary this morning. It’s been two months since my last shift and today marks my first day “back on the job.” After two months of being on maternity leave, I was curious. I was curious to see if the initial morning greeting between each of the chimps and myself would be any different than that of any other morning I have been here. In particular, I was curious to see what the boss (Jamie chimpanzee) would do. Would she come right over to me and demand to see my shoes or mark my absence with some other sort of greeting/non-greeting.

Turns out, this morning’s greetings were no different than any other day I have been at the sanctuary. There was no staring at my belly (or rather the lack of a large protrusion from my mid section). It was strictly “business as usual” for Jamie in particular. She barely looked at me before sitting down and demanding to see my shoes (by extending her fingers and gesturing toward my shoes), which she stared at ever so intently. Burrito gave a quick head nod and stuck his lips out through the caging to kiss the back of my hand. Negra gave a series of head nods and extended lips from her blanket nest, not moving any closer toward me. Annie and Missy were too busy engrossed in play to notice I was there and Jody was busy napping in her nest.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I absolutely love that there was no difference in the way they greeted or didn’t greet me this morning. I love that (and I can only speak for myself and not for the chimps), it was like I was never gone.

Jamie demanded I join her for her perimeter patrol around Young’s Hill, as per usual (me on the outside of the electric fences and her on the inside).


Why are the Chimps in Cages?

November 21st, 2015 by Diana

You may have heard that Foxie has become a bit of a celebrity due to this The Dodo article and a follow up story and video on the Huffington Post.

Publicity for the sanctuary is so wonderful! New amazing people with gigantic hearts find out about the work we do and all of the chimpanzees in our care, and the world overall becomes a better place with more like-minded people connecting with causes that speak to them.

And then there are the comments on the internet…

As a general rule, it’s a bit disheartening to read internet comments, no matter the subject, but when people are commenting on something so close to your heart and making assumptions that are wildly inaccurate, it can sting.

However, it can also be somewhat enlightening.

One theme to the comments of late has been questioning why Foxie is “still in a cage.”

Here’s the truth about keeping chimpanzees in captivity – you have to put measures in place to contain them in order to keep them and the humans safe. And captive facilities, whether labs or zoos or sanctuaries, utilize concrete and steel to some extent.

Below is a photo of the type of cage that most of the chimpanzees living at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest spent years and years living in while in laboratories:

cage outside

Jody in buckshire cage


This is their sanctuary home now (the building and the hill inside the electrical fence):

chimp house


I am here to tell you right now that some of the enclosures at the sanctuary are primarily caging.


The next few photos are of the greenhouse, which is the chimpanzees’ favorite area year round. It is basically a large cage.

The greenhouse was the chimpanzees’ original “outdoor” area, and was caging that was open to the elements. Greenhouse panels were added to make it a usable space year round. Here are the panels going up:

greenhouse construction

And here is what it looks like in the winter. It’s pretty toasty in there when there’s even a little bit of sun to heat things up.

greenhouse in snow


The greenhouse is an incredibly usable space – chimpanzees, being strong and dexterous and having opposable toes, can easily climb up the walls, and the ceiling is made up of bars where they can hang from and brachiate, whether just to get across the room, when absconding with a prize, during play, or just for fun. I wish all enclosures could be as usable.

jamie with pinata in legs

Jamie and Missy brachiate

Burrito brachiating

The caging also allows caregivers to directly interact with and serve the chimpanzees (unlike other methods of containment that we also use at the sanctuary such as electric fencing and bullet-proof / chimp-proof glass).

serve vitamin


Caging is also handy for hanging food puzzles, like this raisin board that Jamie enjoyed tonight:

Jamie with food puzzle


But take another look at that photo above of Jamie with her raisin board.

If you didn’t know that this:

Jamie and Missy on patrol

and this:

Jamie on shakey bridge

and this:

Jamie look into distance

was also a part of Jamie’s everyday existence, what would you think?


We considered this when we started the blog before the chimpanzees arrived. Would we avoid posting photos of the chimpanzees behind bars, or play sessions that were filmed in the smaller front room area? We decided we would share it all, with the idea that those who were truly concerned or curious would look into things further, find out more, and then, of course, fall in love with the chimpanzees.

And for those who simply made an assumption about the sanctuary and never delved further, well, maybe they weren’t our “target audience.”

So, for those who are reading this, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to learn and wonder and question and care.

Anyone who works at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest will tell you that our ultimate goal is to put ourselves out of business. We don’t like the fact that there is a need for sanctuaries for chimpanzees. We don’t like the fact that there are chimpanzees in captivity anywhere.

We don’t want our chimpanzee friends to be living behind bars – we want them to be wild and free in their native habitat. But that is not possible. As we explain on our FAQ page, there are many reasons why captive chimpanzees in North America cannot be released into the wild, but one of the most significant reasons is that chimpanzees rely heavily on cultural knowledge for survival in the wild. Having been raised in captivity, the chimpanzees at CSNW lack the most basic skills for survival such as finding and procuring food and protecting themselves from the dangers of their environment.

We wish that Foxie had been born in Africa into a huge and thriving population of chimpanzees. We wish that she had children and grandchildren that surrounded her and enriched her life. But she was born in a laboratory. And that is tragic.

What we get to do, though, is tell the other side of her story. The story about her falling in love with troll dolls, and being the 98-pound mediator within her group of chimpanzees, and playing wild games of wrestle and troll keep-away with Jamie.

Some of this is done on the other side of steel caging, and we will continue to show those moments.

Burrito and Foxie

Early morning treats

November 20th, 2015 by J.B.

Each year, when the first cold spell hits, the chimps remind us that there is, in fact, a small upside to winter. Early morning frost lingers in the shadows on Young’s Hill, which the chimps rush to lick from every surface before it vanishes.


Tire swings hide thin layers of ice on the inside.




The chimps gather all of the icy treats they can find and head off to their favorite spots to enjoy them. Some return to the greenhouse.


Others carry their spoils to the tops the climbing structures.


These late fall mornings might be cold, but at least they bring snacks.


The Warriors

November 19th, 2015 by Elizabeth

Jamie and Negra are similar in many ways. Jamie, the youngest female at the sanctuary, is the undisputed leader. She rules through a combination of well-considered political strategy and fierce determination.


Negra, the eldest chimpanzee at the sanctuary, is the grandma of the group, but she’s the grandma you don’t mess with.


Jamie and Negra never hesitate to keep their caregivers in line. Both have little patience for (what they consider) incompetence, and they will speak up if someone’s behavior does not live up to their standards. There is something a little demoralizing about displeasing one of them.

The decades Jamie and Negra spent in research labs, being used and abused by humans, could easily have killed their spirits. Many lab chimps give in and give up, and you can’t blame them. We’re so happy that Jamie and Negra have enough fight left in them to keep us on our toes.

Nest building with Jamie Chimpanzee

November 18th, 2015 by Anna

When the cold November wind is blowing over the hills of Central Washington and the caregivers of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest are hard at work scrubbing the front rooms, it’s up to the boss of the sanctuary to keep herself occupied.

This may come in the form of examining the photos in a magazine..

But it may also be a great time to build a fresh nest with that magazine, a sheet, a troll scarf, and a bunch of blankets.



Fake Jamie?

November 17th, 2015 by Anna

In the past, we’ve talked about how we occasionally mistake one chimpanzee for another at first glance. A great example of this is when we catch Missy doing a “fake Neggie.”

The other night I snapped a couple photos of Negra in her evening nest. The camera angle and Negra’s posture reminded me a little of a facial expression I’ve seen a lot with Jamie. Maybe if you squint and cross your eyes a bit, you too can see the similarities. I’m sure the more seasoned blog readers won’t be fooled one bit.



Jamie in a similar pose:

An Enduring Love

November 16th, 2015 by Elizabeth

Over seven years after meeting and falling in love with her first troll doll, Foxie is still so intensely enamored with these strange little dolls that she carries one everywhere. Today she laid down to rest in the playroom and spent several minutes gazing at her doll before closing her eyes.