Chimpanzees Don’t Belong on Either Side of the Theater Screen

July 22nd, 2014 by Debbie

A story appeared recently in the Daily Mail and Good Morning America showing images and video of two young chimpanzees, Vali and Sugriva, going to the theater with their “handlers” and watching the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The irony is that the two young chimpanzees were exploited for this publicity stunt, and brought into a theater to watch a movie that purposefully avoided using live ape actors… (Read more on Care2)

Angel was kept in a Hollywood training facility and routinely beaten and abused into submission by her trainers. She displayed a toothy grin—called a fear grimace—just at the sight of a camera. Angel was rescued by the Center for Great Apes as part of a legal suit against her former trainer.

Angel was kept in a Hollywood training facility and routinely beaten and abused into submission by her trainers. She displayed a toothy grin—called a fear grimace—just at the sight of a camera. Angel was rescued by the Center for Great Apes as part of a legal suit against her former trainer.

For more on the training facility Vali and Sugriva live at, visit our trainer page on Eyes on Apes.

Thank you to Care2 for posting our op-ed on this issue! Please share the article with your friends and get the word out that chimpanzees do not belong on either side of the theater screen.

Spending time in sanctuary

July 21st, 2014 by Lisa

As a caregiver at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest one of our priorities is trying to come up with entertainment, enrichment, and various engaging activities for the chimpanzees’ daily lives. We are keen to provide them with as much choice and autonomy in captivity as we can.

For all our effort towards this end, it is always a gift to be reminded that as much as the chimpanzees might appreciate it, they also do not rely solely on it for their happiness and well-being. The chimpanzees are as adept at enriching them-selves (and each other) as we are at enrichment and I wouldn’t have it any other way! It is a privilege to care for these seven chimpanzees but I believe they know far better than I what would be the best way for them to spend their time. Here is just a taste of how they choose to live today.



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Happy Birthday, Ren!

July 21st, 2014 by Katelyn

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Patrick and Carrie Hardie in honor of Ren’s 19th birthday! Patrick and Carrie sent the following lovely message:

“We are long time supporters of CSNW and couldn’t think of a better way to honor our nephew’s 19th birthday than supporting our favorite seven primates.”

Patrick and Carrie, we are all touched that you would include the chimpanzees in your wish to celebrate Ren’s special day. Thank you so much for thinking of them! Ren, from all of the primates here at CSNW, Happy Birthday!! We hope you’re having a great day!



Alone time is good for the soul

July 21st, 2014 by Lisa

**Last week I experienced some technical difficulties trying to post my blog. If you are on Facebook you will already have had the opportunity to watch the video but for those of you who aren’t, here is last week’s blog post, finally!! Please enjoy and check back later for today’s real blog post.**

Chimpanzees are highly social creatures. They rely on a social hierarchy and daily networking as part of the glue that keeps their society functioning. But, just like humans, the chimpanzees benefit from some quality time alone as well. With the temperature in the playroom providing a slight relief from a recent humid heat wave, the chimpanzees took advantage of the opportunity for time to cool off and recharge their social batteries.

New Horizons

July 20th, 2014 by Elizabeth

Negra doesn’t spend as much time outside on Young’s Hill as the other chimpanzees. She seems to feel safer and more comfortable inside. And when she does go out, she doesn’t venture far. So we’re always excited to see Negra explore new territory on the hill.

This morning we set up a breakfast forage outside, and included some lettuce (Negra’s favorite). Negra couldn’t resist, and she joined the rest of the group as they went out to forage for breakfast. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, she spotted some lettuce on top of a climbing structure. Negra’s not much of a climber, and most of the climbing structures on Young’s Hill have remained unexplored by her. This morning’s lettuce, though, was incentive enough to brave the unknown.












Paper bag day

July 19th, 2014 by Debbie

First off—today is the Doggie and Troll Olympics! The games are currently underway and although I wish I could be there to enjoy all the fun, Katelyn, myself, and volunteers Connie and Annie are here with the chimps having fun of our own. (If you weren’t able to join the games today, consider making a donation in Foxie’s honor—the troll games, after all, are about Foxie’s love of troll dolls and an early celebration of her August 8th birthday!)

We’re always trying to come up with interesting enrichment themes for the chimps. The other day I noticed how many paper shopping bags we had collected and thought it would be fun to fill them with enrichment and seal them closed so the chimps would have to open them like presents.

Jamie, of course, loved that project—but to my surprise, Burrito found paper bag day to be a big hit! He used them to display with, which is very helpful if you’re a male chimpanzee. And then he methodically went through one bag, but by the time I grabbed the camera, he had emptied it and was using it as a pillow. Who knew paper shopping bags could have so many uses!


Jamie playing

July 18th, 2014 by Debbie

We’ve often described Jamie as a complicated chimpanzee. She seems to identify more with the humans than with being a chimpanzee, but at the same time, she’s very socially manipulative and runs the show around here. As the boss, there’s no doubt she always has a lot on her mind. Most of the time, Jamie is pretty serious about things, even when she’s playing with the humans. She will ask to groom our shoes or wrists, play chase, or walk around the hill—and we will usually get a head nod from her as acknowledgement that she’s happy about that moment, but rarely does she laugh when playing with humans. Foxie, however, seems to be the one individual who can really get Jamie to be silly. The other chimpanzees are occasionally able to get Jamie’s silly side out, but not as much as Foxie.

The other day I posted the first part of this video on our Instagram account—if you’re not following us there, you should be! Today I got Foxie and Jamie playing again and laughing pretty hard. It wasn’t long before Jamie caught me, the paparazzi, and shifted her attention away. She looked toward my boot so I played a little tickle game. You’ll be able to see her briefly head nod, but not laugh the way she does when she’s wrestling with Foxie.

I’ve always found it interesting that though Jamie is very human-oriented, she seems to really only let her guard down when playing with other chimpanzees. Jamie is certainly an interesting and complicated chimpanzee, but we love her all the more for it.

Guy time

July 17th, 2014 by Debbie

For whatever reason, the chimpanzee caregiver field is largely dominated by women. All of the staff here at CSNW at one point or another were students, interns, and/or staff at the former Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, where we all learned the ropes of chimpanzee husbandry. In my tenure there, I would estimate it was about a 5:1 ratio of women to men!

At CSNW, we’ve had a handful of men volunteer in the chimp house, and several more that have helped in other ways—groundskeeping and outdoor projects, fundraising, event help, etc. But up until recently, the only men that have been direct caregivers are co-director J.B. and our founder, Keith.

Well, Joel broke a new record in our sixth year of sanctuary and became the very first male volunteer caregiver. Though all the chimpanzees enjoy new friendships, Burrito is especially excited. As you can imagine, living with a group of girls and being taken care of by a group of girls makes guy time all the more valuable!


Don’t worry—J.B. and Keith are still Burrito’s pals, as well as all his female caregivers, too! One of the things we emphasize during our caregiver training is the importance of building a strong relationship based on trust, and we divide our time between all the chimpanzees to avoid fostering any “favorites.” But, just like humans, some personalities click differently and that is totally fine. Burrito seems to really click with his new buddy, which makes all the primates here pretty happy.

An icy smorgasbord

July 16th, 2014 by Katelyn

We are at the peak of a long heatwave here at the sanctuary with temperatures hovering in the triple digits for the past week. I found Negra enjoying a moment of peaceful solitude in the still cooler greenhouse early this morning:


But it doesn’t take long for the greenhouse to get too warm on days like this. Much like the humans, the chimpanzees find it too hot to do much of anything and have been spending a lot of their time in the cooler playroom. (Though Jamie still manages to power through her daily walks in the midday heat!). So we thought today should be an ice-filled enrichment day to help keep everyone hydrated and cool.

The chimpanzees love ice so we filled their wading pool, gardening table, wheelbarrow, and buckets with several bags full and then volunteer caregiver-in-training, Sandra, tossed in a few cherries, frozen raspberries from the chimps’ garden, and sunflower seeds to jazz up the forage. There were pant-hoots and food grunts galore.

Burrito was pretty overwhelmed at first and didn’t seem to know where to begin:


But he made good use of those fabulous prehensile lips of his:


Missy and Jody joined Burrito (though Jody was avoiding the paparazzi today):


Missy LOVES ice and she didn’t leave this spot for some time:



Foxie made the rounds of the ice smorgasbord, taking mouthfuls from several locations:



Then for the second frozen course, volunteer caregiver, Steph, showed up with frozen water bottles filled with strawberries and cucumbers! These were a huge hit and Foxie got right to work on these as well:


Annie enjoying hers in the greenhouse:


Surprisingly, I wasn’t able to get any photos of Jamie, but she was beside herself with so much to do and at one point was seen drinking from one of many bottles she had collected and scrubbing the front rooms with a brush and bucket of water (at the same time, of course).

And while this is not a great photo I couldn’t resist sharing Negra, with perhaps the biggest mouthful of all!


Bubble Fun

July 15th, 2014 by Elizabeth

We’re in the middle of a heatwave in Cle Elum; temperatures have been reaching 100 degrees some afternoons. We’ve been filling the pool in the playroom with water each morning to help the chimpanzees stay cool. This morning I decided to add a tiny bit of soap, thinking Jamie might like to do some cleaning. But Foxie was the one who made a beeline for the pool. She couldn’t resist the bubbles.