A peaceful decision

April 21st, 2015 by Katelyn

The chimpanzees access Young’s Hill through what we refer to as “the raceway,” a short, caged tunnel which leads directly from the greenhouse to their 2-acre outdoor enrichment area. If you’ve been following the blog for awhile, you’ve probably seen us mention how Jamie often likes to stay out late during the warmer months to walk around the hill. One of her favorite tactics to let us know she’s not ready to come inside yet is to sit in the doorway of the raceway so we can’t close it. The chimpanzees all know that we won’t leave them on the hill overnight and wait until they are ready to come in for the evening before closing the door. It’s also one of the chimps’ favorite spots from which to look out onto the hill, the valley below, or just check out what the other chimpanzees might be up to out there, all while staying within close proximity to the greenhouse. It’s also a good spot to assess weather conditions before committing to going out onto the hill. Perhaps the equivalent to poking your head out the door to assess things from a comfortable spot.

Today, as many of the chimpanzees ran out onto Young’s Hill, Annie decided to check the situation out first before making her decision to join them or not. Not so long ago this is where we would see Annie sitting, rocking with anxiety and distress, while her best friend, Missy, explored the hill, not always comfortable following after her. Those days seem gone for Annie now and she typically has no problem venturing out on her own, or sitting peacefully while she makes up her mind as to what she would like to do. She increasingly bases her choices simply on what will bring her pleasure in the moment, as opposed to decisions based on anxiety.

Debbie caught some photos of beautiful Annie, sitting in the raceway, as she watched her friends run out onto the hill, happy and relaxed as she chose to just observe, and with the droopy lip to show it.




The Folks Behind the Curtain

April 20th, 2015 by Elizabeth

We’ve talked before about how much we rely on volunteer help to do what we do here at the sanctuary. Since last week was National Volunteer Week, we thought it’d be a good time to mention it again.

Volunteers are involved in every aspect of the chimpanzees’ care. Every good thing we are able to do for the chimps is made possible, or easier, by volunteers. They are dedicated, selfless, compassionate, and tireless. They are the chimps’ advocates and caregivers and friends. Their work is not always glamorous, but it always makes a difference.









Our volunteers work hard everyday to create a home where Jody and the others can kick back and put their feet up.





We are so grateful!


April 19th, 2015 by Keri

I could not help but feel incredibly moved this morning, as myself and volunteers Erin and Tanya were cleaning the Greenhouse portion of the chimpanzee’s living quarters. There is a brightly colored painting with supporter names on the one main wall that caught my attention and I stopped to really look at it. There are so many names on the wall. As I continued to look around at all of the items in the Greenhouse, all I could think about was how every component of the sanctuary is the result of a community of loving, thoughtful and caring people.

There are so many components that make up the sanctuary, including various paintings on the walls that really help to brighten the chimpanzee areas. Various structures, tires and dangling fire hoses provide space for the chimps to climb, play, and rest. Countless blankets and enrichment items contribute to the chimpanzees’ comfort and well-being. Even the tools we use to clean, including the scrub brushes, squeegees, buckets, soap, right down to the very gloves we wear, help staff and volunteers keep the enclosures clean. Fresh fruits and vegetables make up each of the meals, while bamboo planted around Young’s Hill and in the Greenhouse give the chimps extra nesting and foraging material. And then there are the enclosures and storage spaces themselves that have been made possible by those who have donated their time, energy, expertise and the actual materials needed to construct them.

All of CSNW, every square inch, every little detail, has been made possible by countless volunteers and generous supporters. These chimpanzees are loved world wide and I can’t think of a better gift to give them than a community that is dedicated to their well-being. I know it can never make up for the countless ways in which they have been wronged in the past, but it’s the best we all can do to provide them a now and a future that is full of hope, love and sanctuary.

Looking around and seeing all the parts that make up the whole got me to thinking, why do we do it? Why do we dedicate our lives to the well-being of these chimpanzees? Is it a sense of responsibility, a way to show our compassion for all living beings, or is it when we look into their eyes, we see ourselves? Perhaps there are no words to describe why. What is your reason for being a part of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest?








Which ever way you choose to support the sanctuary, know that you have and will continue to make a huge impact on the lives of these chimpanzees. And thank you!!! Thank you those who have and those who continue to volunteer at the sanctuary; those who have donated their time, energy and services to help our various fundraising efforts including the HOOT! Gala event; those who help spread the word about the plight of chimpanzees in captivity and in the wild through our Eyes on Apes advocacy program; those who have donated items through our Wishlist, and those who choose to Sponsor a day in honor of a loved one or directly sponsor a chimpanzee through our Chimpanzee Pal program. Thank you for being a part of the CSNW community.

Happy Birthday, Zoe!

April 19th, 2015 by Katelyn

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Don and Karen Young in honor of their granddaughter, Zoe’s, birthday! Zoe is 2 years old today and Don and Karen shared this special message about her:

“Zoe Young, daughter of Ryan and Helena Young, and our beautiful little grand daughter who wins the hearts of everyone she meets. She loves wild animals, domestic too, but her nursery was decorated with wild animals so she gravitates towards them. At 9 months, she would sit for hours and look at individual animal cards! She can make many animal sounds. One day we will take her to meet the Cle Elum Seven. A special birthday celebration for the chimps in honor of Zoe’s life.”

Happy Birthday, Zoe! We wish you the happiest of days! Don and Karen, thank you so much for holding the chimpanzees in your heart and including them in your family celebrations. What a wonderful gift your family has provided Zoe with by teaching her about all the amazing beings we share the earth with.


web Burrito lie on back bite fish toy enrichment look at camera greenhouse GH IMG_7204


April 18th, 2015 by Diana

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by nonhuman great apes. For a time it was just an interest that added to my overall identity – like how some people like owls, or koala bears, or unicorns.

I admired “Leakey’s Ladies” – Dian Fosey, Jane Goodall, and Birute Gladikas – and daydreamed about following in their footsteps.

In truth, though, my fascination came prior to developing a true understanding and compassion for nonhuman apes. It was just an intense curiosity.

They are, after all, so familiar in some ways.

Foxie's hand holding her foot

So like humans, yet different – exotic

Foxie close-up

Jamie standing bipedal

Luckily, I happened upon the right people at the right time and was ready to rethink this fascination and the historical relationship that humans have had to other apes.

Human curiosity can lead to a lot of destruction when it is not balanced with compassion.

Now I wonder what the world would be like today if humans weren’t so curious about other species. What if we just left them alone instead of bringing them into our world to study them and then use them for our own benefit?

We can’t go backwards, though. The human world has clashed and combined and intertwined with the worlds of other animals. So there are places like Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, where we try to make up for wrongs committed against other species, and we try to demonstrate and spread compassion for our closest living relatives, and for other nonhuman animals too.

Our curiosity is just as strong, if not stronger, but hopefully compassion combined with fascination makes for a more hopeful future for all species who share this planet.

Jamie walking

Burrito looking away

Jody close-up

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. (www.eyesonapes.org/eli)

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.