The Thanksgiving Feast

November 28th, 2014 by J.B.

All week we’ve been giving thanks for the people and organizations that make this sanctuary possible. Yesterday, it was all about the chimps. Which means that here at the sanctuary, it was all about the food.

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You know who likes food?

This guy.

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He somehow managed to hold six baked apples in his hands while he vacuumed up everything else with his mouth.

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I’ve never seen him concentrate this hard on anything before.

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Burrito wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the Thanksgiving party. You’ll have to watch the video at the end of this post to see what Negra had to do to get this treat bag. All I can say is that it was very un-Negra like. But as you can see from her expression, it was well worth the effort.

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Foxie was joined by this little black-haired troll during the forage.

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After lunch, they went for a stroll on the hill together (if you don’t see the troll, look closely for some hair that seems out of place).

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There was no Thanksgiving food coma for Missy. Once the sun came out, she hit the hill to get some exercise.

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Many thanks to Patti, Sandra, and Katie for volunteering to help the chimps on the holiday, and to Patti and Denice for preparing the feast. As you’ll see, it was quite a hit:

On the 7th Day of Giving Thanks

November 27th, 2014 by Katelyn

We are the sum of all of our parts. For the past six days we have been sharing our gratitude for all of the amazing humans and organizations who give their support to the sanctuary in a myriad of ways. Each and every person we’ve mentioned, and I am sure so many more who we may never be aware of, has made the sanctuary and the lives of the chimpanzees what they are today. And for that we could not be more thankful.

On this seventh day of giving thanks, we want to share our gratitude for the heart and soul of the sanctuary and all that we do, the chimpanzees themselves. Words could never fully express the respect, admiration and love we have for Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy and Negra. We are thankful for the unique personalities that each of the chimpanzees share with us. The joy and laughter they bring to our lives and for making us smile every single day. We are thankful for the gift and privilege of their friendship and all that they teach us about forgiveness, strength, courage, healing and choosing to live each moment to the fullest. For being themselves, always, and allowing us into their world so that we can share that with others in the hope of helping other chimpanzees and primates. And honestly, I suspect I speak for all the caregivers when I say we are even thankful for the flinging of feces and spitting of saliva. How could that be possible? Because it’s one more moment that they get to express themselves just as they are knowing they will be respected, cared for and loved just the same.

We are profoundly thankful for each of the chimpanzees’ indomitable spirits and their ability to heal, forgive, and allow humans into their lives, in spite of what our species has done to them. Not because this makes us feel better or because it justifies in any way what they have experienced, but because it allows them some sense of peace and comfort and to experience life more on their terms, as it always should have been for them.

We are thankful for beautiful Annie’s sweet, gentle spirit and her new found ability to stand up for herself and her friends when it really matters to her. For her growing independence, courage and comfort in her own skin and the sense of freedom we hope this brings her after so much anxiety and fear. And for “Annie-bird” noises as she whistles into her hands and clapping her feet together which mean she’s relaxed and happy, raspberries and foot stomping when she gives us the gift of her attention, and to bear witness to the amazing friendship she has with her best friend, Missy.

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We are thankful for Burrito and the heartwarming charm he so willingly shares with us just by being himself. For his place in a family of chimpanzee women who love him despite his boisterous displays and lack of appropriate chimpanzee etiquette and provide him a safe place in which he can figure out what it means to be the only guy among six ladies. And for the sound of his food squeaks echoing throughout the chimp house at meal time, for play faces, play stomps, play bows, and blanket tosses when he is feeling particularly playful.

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We are thankful for Foxie and the sheer joyful exuberance she greets each day with. For the innate sensitivity she shows toward her fellow primates, human and non, and her ability to make all of us (even Jamie) feel better just by being herself. For the growing courage she finds to explore Young’s Hill in awe and for her ability to trust us when sharing her “babies” with us, knowing she will never have anything she loves taken from her again. And for back flips, pirouettes, kisses given while hanging upside down, the willingness to gaze into our eyes, her toes (!) and the toe tickling that comes with those toes.

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We are thankful for Jamie and her astounding intelligence, willpower, and creativity. For the opportunity she finally has to call the shots and be loved and respected exactly as she is in each minute of the day. For walks around Young’s Hill and for the immense honor it is to accompany her on her perimeter walks and be included as part of her troop. And for “upside-down-Jamie-on-a-barrel” because it means she is happy, do-it-yourself Jamie who takes charge of her home, that she now feels safe enough to take naps and actually close her eyes and rest, and happy groans of pure joy when she receives a new pair of boots.

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We are thankful for Jody and what she teaches us about the value of comfort, relaxation and taking care of oneself. For her ability to now spend each minute choosing exactly what feels best for her. For the sheer joy she receives from foraging for every wild plant she can find on Young’s Hill, for the way she “holds the door” and gathers everyone up until she makes sure all the chimpanzees have come in for meals, for her “dinosaur” groans when she is particularly happy about something she’s eating, for “happy baby” poses while lounging in her nest, for sometimes poking us when she’s feeling saucy, and for her earnest gazes and endearing “butt-bounces” when greeting us.

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We are thankful for Missy and the fact that she finally has the choice to run to her heart’s content in every direction she can on Young’s Hill, laughing as she passes you by. For the athletic prowess which brings her so much joy after so many years living in a small cage with no room for her spirit to move. For her ability to wake up each day with so much joy that she and her best friend, Annie, play chase, wrestle and laugh like crazy before they are even fully awake. And for the leaping, spinning, swinging, jumping, and climbing. And for the way she gets us to “chase” her to the garden to ask for summertime tomatoes.

Missy balancing on fire hose

And we are thankful for Queen Negra and her ability to find joy and a position of respect in the companionship of her chimpanzee and human friends after years of solitude and depression. For the absolute pleasure she receives from the simple things in life like a nest made of sometimes over 30 blankets, the sun on her face, and days spent nesting peacefully by her window as she watches the valley below. And for hand claps when the servers are too slow, straw thrown in our faces when she really wants to get her point across, head nods of approval when we dance for her, the absolute joy she receives from night bags and for nuts and seeds on her belly as she enjoys those nightbags.

Negra looking at camera with night bag

On this Thanksgiving Day and always, we are ever grateful to all of you who provide hope, love, home and sanctuary to these seven chimpanzee people. We couldn’t possibly hold more love in our hearts for them and to know they are safe, loved, respected, and able to finally make choices in their lives is the best gift we could ask for. Please know that you all, in whatever form your support is given, make a difference in their lives.  From all of us at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

The chimpanzees’ Thanksgiving Day celebration is getting under way now so be sure to tune in tomorrow to check out the fun!!

Thanksgiving Eve (the 6th day of thanks!)

November 26th, 2014 by Debbie

This week we’ve expressed our gratitude for everyone who plays a part in helping Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest fulfill its mission. Staff, board members, and volunteers are integral people who dedicate so much of their lives to helping the Cle Elum Seven chimpanzees. In-kind donations of services and goods help us stretch every dollar we can, and grants and foundations help us complete big projects. But you—our donors—are literally the heartbeat that keeps the sanctuary pumping.

Donations have forever changed the lives of the Cle Elum Seven with projects like Young’s Hill and the on-site mobile veterinary clinic. Not only do donations contribute to big projects, but they keep the sanctuary going day-to-day. As JB wrote about last week, staff members are devoted, long-term friends and caregivers of the Cle Elum Seven, and they keep the outreach and volunteer programs going as well as working on development and operations. Your donations bring our hard-working team together to make CSNW the best possible home for the Cle Elum Seven and an all-around amazing organization.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, we want to take a minute to reflect on how far we have come with your help, and how your role will take us so much further. We simply cannot ever express with enough gratitude how appreciative we are for every dollar that is given, and every minute someone spends telling their friends and family about why they support Annie, Negra, Jody, Jamie, Burrito, Foxie, and Missy.

It’s hard to put into words the impact that all our donors have had on the lives of seven very special beings. Perhaps words can never truly express the importance you’ve all had in their lives, but maybe these “before and after” pictures can illustrate that effect.

 
Annie

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Negra

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Jody

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Jamie

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The outpouring of support during the last six and a half years is evidence that our donors really do have the biggest hearts, and it is because of you that the Cle Elum Seven finally have a second chance at life.

 
Your donations have given Burrito hope.

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You’ve given Foxie love.

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You’ve given Missy a home.

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You’ve given these chimpanzees the sanctuary they so deserve—and for that, we thank you!
 

On the 5th Day of Thanks

November 25th, 2014 by Diana

This thanking business is so much fun!

Today we are sending loud, boisterous chimpanzee-style pant hoot thanks to all of the foundations and organizations who have supported the sanctuary with grants.

The sanctuary does not receive any government support. While the majority of cash donations to the sanctuary come from individuals, we have also been fortunate to have received private grants from some really incredible organizations and foundations.

Sometimes these grants are for specific projects, such as the National Anti-Vivisection Society grant earlier this year that helped pay for the back-up generator for the chimp house (along with a donation from the Youngs), the ASPCA grant that paid for the wildfire sprinkler system, and a Yakama Cares grant that paid for essentials (namely the rental of the port-o-potty!) for our Summer Visitor program.

observation deck

Often, grants are for general operating expenses. It’s difficult to express how affirming it is to receive grants, knowing that the granting organization has a limited amount of funds to distribute. Receiving grants for general operating funds can be particularly affirming because the grantor acknowledges the importance of the day to day care of the chimpanzees and the costs involved in operating the sanctuary.

Grants, just like donations from individuals, impart a responsibility on us to use the gift effectively and in partnership with the grantor.

We are very proud to have received, in the last year and a half, tens of thousands of dollars towards general operating funds from the American Anti-Vivisection Society, the Summerlee Foundation, the Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation, the Tony Stewart Foundation, and grants from two foundations that are in the process of closing down. Earlier this year we were also incredibly excited to receive a grant from Bob Barker’s DJ&T Foundation.

All of these granting organizations support other amazing nonprofits, and we are so thrilled to be a part of their good works.

Just like individual donations, the chimpanzees have truly benefited from these gifts. It is difficult to imagine their lives of desperation before coming to the sanctuary, and there are not thanks enough in the world to express to those who have not only helped get the chimpanzees out of that situation, but who continue to support their new leases on life that allow them to be…

 

goofy like Burrito

burrito with stuffed fish

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relaxed like Jody:

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Jody nesting

 

and serene like Annie:

Annie serene

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On The 4th Day of Thanks

November 24th, 2014 by Keri

Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW) could not do what it does without the generous support of such compassionate, caring and generous people. We cannot express enough how much we value and thank all those who are part of this sanctuary family. (Read more in the first, second and third days of giving thanks).

In the spirit of continuing to give thanks, I’d like to take this time to recognize all the folks who have made in-kind donations to benefit the chimpanzees and the sanctuary over the past six and a half years. In-kind donations are the direct donation of needed goods and services. They are vital to providing a safe, healthy and enriching environment for all the primates at CSNW.

Throughout the years, many folks have graciously donated their professional architectural and construction services to help transform the sanctuary into what it is today.

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I also want to give a pant hoot thanks to those who have donated their professional graphic design and videography services and to all of those who have given items and gift certificates for auctions. These donations have been a tremendous help with our fundraising efforts and have helped share the stories of Jamie, Jody, Foxie, Negra, Burrito, Missy and Annie with the rest of the world.

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Of course, the health of the chimpanzees is always top priority. I would also like to offer a huge thank you to those who have most kindly donated their veterinary services and equipment over the years to ensure the health of the Cle Elum 7.

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Fresh fruit and vegetables is also of utmost importance in keeping the chimps healthy (and enriched). I want to be sure to thank those who have regularly gone above and beyond to ensure that the chimps have healthy food to eat each day.

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Jody enjoying a mouthful of fresh cabbage.
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Missy eating a bell pepper.
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Have we mentioned that Burrito LOVES food!
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Another huge thank you goes out to all those who have purchased items from our Amazon Wish List. While many of the items, such as laundry detergent, garbage bags, gloves, soap, stamps, and printer toner may not seem at all “glamorous,” they are essential to the day-to-day operations of the sanctuary. They help us keep our expenses down by providing things we need to operate and they help staff and volunteers do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

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We also include extra special gifts on our wish list like toys, puzzles, dolls, socks, non-toxic art supplies, brushes, etc., all aimed to enhance and enrich the daily lives of the chimpanzees. We regularly receive enrichment packages from people near and far. Items like kongs and tool sets have provided hours of problem solving for Jamie; while troll and dora dolls have helped Foxie gain confidence over the years.

And then there are the countless donations from those who know how to throw a party to celebrate all the holidays, birthdays or just-because days. What’s a party without festive cups, plates, piñatas or streamers? We also receive numerous donations that follow our enrichment guidelines including cowboy boots, blankets, magazines, paper, etc.

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Annie with pinata

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Sometimes the words “thank you” just don’t seem to capture the immense gratitude we feel for all those who have offered these in-kind donations over the years. Know that your generosity has affected each and every primate (human and non-human) at the sanctuary in such a deep and meaningful way and will continue to transform the lives of Jamie, Jody, Negra, Foxie, Burrito, Missy and Annie. Without each and every single one of you, the sanctuary would not be what it is today.

On The 3rd Day of Thanks

November 23rd, 2014 by Elizabeth

In this week leading up to Thanksgiving, we are giving Seven Days of Thanks. We have so many amazing primates (human and non-human) to celebrate! (Check out the first and second days of thanks if you missed them.)

Today we want to thank our many volunteers – the incredible, selfless individuals who give their time to improve the chimpanzees’ lives. Caring for seven chimpanzees is more than a full time job, and it’s a job that our small staff of six could never handle on our own. Our volunteers find windows of time in their busy lives to dedicate to the chimps. Many have full-time jobs themselves (or are full-time students). Many come from across the state – or even from other states – to help us out. We are consistently humbled by their commitment, generosity, and spirit. Every single aspect of the chimpanzees’ lives is made better by volunteers.

Volunteers help ensure that the chimps are supported financially by helping out at fundraising and community events.

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They help us expand and improve the sanctuary.

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They help us clean up after disaster.

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They work to give the chimps a clean home…

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…fresh blankets…

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…interesting things to do…

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…and interesting things to look at.

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They accompany the chimpanzees on perimeter walks to defend their territory…

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…and even befriend the local wildlife.

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They make sure the chimps always have fresh, healthy food by planting gardens…

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…and delivering produce donations.

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They are some of the chimpanzees’ greatest supporters, friends, and advocates and we couldn’t be more grateful.

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On The 2nd Day of Thanks

November 22nd, 2014 by Diana

Yesterday, J.B. introduced you to our Seven Days of Thanks by posting about the dedicated, full-of-heart staff caregivers that give so much every day to the chimpanzees.

Today, I would like to shout from the highest mountain a thank you to the founder of the sanctuary, Keith LaChappelle, all past board members, and our current board of directors.

There would certainly be no Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest without the vision, foresight, commitment, and determination that Keith and the founding board harnessed to start this organization from scratch – taking it from an idea to help chimpanzees in need to a physical sanctuary that has cared for seven of the greatest primates I know for the last six and a half years.

 

J.B. and Keith during construction of the chimpanzees first outdoor area (what is now the greenhouse):

Keith and J.B.

 

Negra and Keith:

Keith and Negra

 

Keith and his friend Nick, helping with the sprinkler system installation this summer:

Keith and Nick

 

There are a lot of people who have the desire to start a sanctuary, but only a fraction of them see their dream become a reality. Starting a sanctuary is not easy in any respect, and it takes a profound amount of work in so many disparate areas to be successful.

Keith officially founded Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in 2003 by bringing together people with varied expertise and the shared desire to make a difference and personally purchasing the sanctuary property to lease to the organization. Ground breaking for the sanctuary began soon after, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the future inhabitants, the seven chimpanzees we all love so much now, were identified.

There have been many incredible people involved in the important work of leading the strategy of the organization as members of the board of directors over the last eleven years, making critical and sometimes difficult decisions. Board members are often the unseen and unsung heroes of nonprofits, carrying the huge responsibility of the organization’s health and vision.

We recently had our annual board retreat, which renewed my admiration for our current and past board members. Having a team of people focused on the same mission, with the same goals for the future, is essential and also inspiring.

board annual meeting

Thanks to our retreat facilitator Susan Howlett for the above photo that looks staged – we really were all concentrating that hard!

 

The best way to show the impact of the work of Keith and all board members who have carried the organization from it’s idea phase to today is to show how far we’ve come.

Below are a few shots of the different phases of the sanctuary over the years:

painting

greenhouse framing

greenhouse construction

Missy chase Foxie

raceway to young's hill construction

young's hill construction platforms

chimps on platforms

mobile clinic

sidewalks

 

 

And here is the very first photo that I put on our website after the chimpanzees arrived on June 13, 2008 – a photo of  Negra:

negra day one

 

Negra in the same spot this morning:

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Negra room four 3

Negra room four 2

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Negra room four 4

These photos of Negra reminded me to let you all know that sculptures of Negra via artist Jason Shanaman are available as part of our eight ways to celebrate the holidays! Check out Holiday Central for more info.

 

7 Days of Thanks

November 21st, 2014 by J.B.

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, we’ve decided to spend the next seven days giving thanks for all of the primates – human and nonhuman – that make this sanctuary what it is. To start, I’d like to recognize the folks that literally dedicate their lives to the well being of the Cle Elum Seven. No one has had more of a direct impact on the lives of these chimpanzees than the staff that care for them each and every day.

The other day I came across this photo of Jamie, taken just days after she had arrived at the sanctuary in 2008.

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It’s amazing how much she has changed.

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When I look at Jamie now, I see the effects of good food, exercise, and sunshine. But I also see a reflection of the people that care for her and the patience, dedication, and selflessness they bring to their work.

Caring for Jamie is not easy. She tests you nearly every day. While some people would consider getting to work with chimps a dream job, their dream version of the job probably doesn’t involve dodging mouthfuls of spit and handfuls of feces on a daily basis. But that is the reality. Jamie is a smart, strong-willed person with a need for control, and for 30 years she was robbed of her autonomy and with it, her dignity. Now she calls the shots. For the first time in her life she is surrounded by people who are willing to put her first.

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That, to me, is the essence of a caregiver’s role. And I’m amazed each and every day by how much of themselves the staff are willing to put into the care of these chimpanzees. Whether it’s cleaning, preparing meals, or taking one last walk around Young’s Hill after a long day, the sanctuary staff are willing to do whatever it takes to keep the chimps happy.

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There is a light in Jamie’s eye that wasn’t there when we first met her in that laboratory basement.

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To the people who work so hard to keep that light shining, we give our thanks.

Elizabeth:

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Debbie:
Charlotte Ross at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest

Katelyn:

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Keri:

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Light Reading

November 20th, 2014 by Elizabeth

I caught Jamie catching up on a magazine the other day.

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In memory of Carlene Garza

November 19th, 2014 by Katelyn

Today we would like to honor the memory of a wonderful friend of the chimpanzees, Carlene Garza, and share a little of her life with you. How do you sum up a life in a few words? A valid question of course, and perhaps an impossible one to answer. But sometimes, even a small insight to a person, be it a kindness they offered, the way they chose to live their life, or the others whose lives have been made better for having known them, can show you just how big their spirit is and speaks larger than words ever could. Carlene was a long time supporter of the chimpanzees and followed our blog on a daily basis. Sadly, her family shared with us that she recently passed away after a long illness and we have been profoundly touched to learn of the impact the chimpanzees had on her life. Her husband, Joseph, graciously shared Carlene’s feelings about the work we do and the chimpanzees:

“Carlene became interested in the plight of chimpanzees’ in this country after viewing a documentary on the subject. She then went online to see what else she could find and stumbled on your website. When she got done reading the story about your sanctuary and the biographies of each of your charges, she was hooked. She visited your site and connected to your animals through Facebook and hardly a day went by that she did not check-in to see what they had been up to and new from the office. She had her favorites of course, Burrito, Foxie, and Jamie, but circumstances prevented us from supporting your great work in the manner we had wished. When Carlene became ill and we knew that there was no recovery, Carlene had asked that I do something for her friends at CSNW. I promised her I would do what I could. Carlene’s passing came way too soon and I decided that in honor of my dear wife, I would ask that family and friends make a donation to CSNW in memory of her. The success of this campaign has grown beyond my wildest dreams and I know that somewhere my wife has a big smile on her face because she was finally able to help her friends at the sanctuary. My hope is that periodically family and friends will think about Carlene, remember her cause and continue to support your work there at the sanctuary.”

We are deeply touched by Carlene’s story and are honored to have received many donations for the chimpanzees as a result of her and her family and friends. And they continue to come in!

Carlene and “the first love of her life,” King:

Carlene_Garza_and_King

As if the Garza family has not been generous enough, Joseph also requested that he be able to send Carlene’s cowboy boots to Jamie as a special gift. Well, in perfect timing they just arrived and we couldn’t wait for Jamie to see them! After a quick safety inspection, we asked volunteer caregiver, Sandra, to model them for Jamie’s surprise.  Jamie usually wants to immediately inspect new boots, but this time she immediately wanted Sandra to wear them for a walk around Young’s Hill!

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Upon their return, Jamie was ready to take a closer look at her gift:

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Jamie loves to groom her boots after they’ve been out for an adventure:

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Jamie asked for the boots after this photo and we passed them through the safety chute to her where she promptly held them to her forehead, a moment of pure boot love. Then she disappeared with them to the very top of the greenhouse where she built a nest with them. I couldn’t climb quite high enough to get a clear photo, but you can just make out the tips of the boots under her chin:

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Joseph, we cannot thank you and your family enough for all you have done for the chimpanzees. We are incredibly moved that you would choose to make their lives better and at a time when you have suffered such immeasurable loss. Please know that the chimpanzees lives have been made better as a result of your and Carlene’s incredible generosity, along with that of your family and friends. And the life of one who has made the lives of so many others better, is a life to celebrate. We are honored to celebrate Carlene’s memory with you today. From all of the primates at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, we send you our deepest gratitude and wish you the comfort and joy that Carlene has shared with so many others.

Joseph kindly shared Carlene’s obituary with us. If you would like to learn more about the live of this beautiful woman, you may do so here.