Jamie’s selfies

August 27th, 2014 by Katelyn

Our day, and how smoothly things can be expected to go, is often made evident within the first few minutes of greeting the chimpanzees in the morning. Or more specifically, within the first few minutes of greeting Jamie. Like many of us, Jamie isn’t always a morning person. And she has no qualms about letting us know exactly where she stands. Or rather, where we stand. But the chimpanzees (or more specifically Jamie) have been happy and playful all day! The chimp house has been full of laughter, games of chase, wrestle and slap, and all around goofiness.

Of course, we caregivers want to bring out the cameras for such chimpanzee shenanigans. But Jamie has stringent rules about whether or not she will allow the paparazzi around, especially for close-ups. But today her good mood seemed to extend a lot of tolerance to us. She even nodded approvingly while checking out her “selfies.”


“Upside-down-Jamie-on-a-barrel” is always a welcome sight and a sure sign she’s in a particularly playful mood. She spent the majority of the morning like this:


And she was happy to keep taking “selfies.”


Chimpanzee Photography Experience & Online Auction Opening Soon

August 26th, 2014 by Diana

I mentioned the other day that some 2013 HOOT! auction bidders had cashed in their photography experience at the sanctuary that they won at the gala.

Right now, we are gearing up for our Summer Biddin’ online auction. While we don’t have a photography session, we do have a really amazing and unique experience to bid on: a Backstage Pass to the Sanctuary!

Bidding for all items opens Thursday morning, and items are still being added, but you can and should (right now) check out how you can help us throw a spectacular Summer Lovin’ Party for the chimpanzees and get some perks for yourself in the process.

Back to Saturday. Martha and Susie were the first winning bidders for the photography session. They had a great time at the sanctuary learning some new photography skills from photographers Karen Ducey and Dean Rutz. They set up photography camp on the observation deck and learned the ropes of the professional equipment that Karen and Dean generously loaned.

Martha and Susie taking aim

Martha and Susie practicing

Martha and Susie happy

And they got some really amazing photos!! Below are just a few.


Annie on young's hill


Foxie pull up

Foxie on platform


And birthday-girl Missy, looking like her athletic self:

Missy on fire hose


Not only was it Missy’s birthday on the day they visited, it was also Martha’s! Karen was kind enough to bring a birthday cake, which of course we adorned with some CSNW style:

Martha's bday cake


Martha and Susie also took a walk with J.B. around the hill with Jamie of course following on the inside of the fence. Ellie the elk was hanging around the property and joined them too:

Ellie, J.B., Martha, Susie


You just never know what adventures await at the sanctuary, especially on a party day, which is why you should get ready to bid on the unique Backstage Pass experience and help us throw a great end-of-summer party! You don’t have to wait until Thursday to make your Summer Lovin’ party donation – do it today!

Mixing it up a bit

August 25th, 2014 by Keri

Many folks have come to know the chimpanzees and their special interests. For instance, Foxie and her love of troll and dora dolls, Jamie and her love of boots and Negra and her love of nesting with a lot of blankets. Well, today, the chimpanzees decided to mix things up a bit.

Annie is usually shy in front of the camera, but not today. Here she is blowing bubbles.

Then she licked the bubbles,

and then blew more bubbles,

and even more bubbles.

Foxie, who can usually be found with a troll or dora doll had one of Burrito’s favorite toys in her mouth.

Jamie usually lets us know when we pick out the right boot she wants us to wear for walking around Young’s Hill. Today she did not seem content with just one boot. After I showed her each boot in her boot bin, she continued to stomp on the second story of the playroom floor and motion toward her bin of boots. Turns out she wanted two boots not just one!

The boots on my feet during a walk around Young’s Hill with Jamie.

Jamie with her boots after the walk around Young’s Hill.

And finally, while cleaning the Playroom, we discovered an unusually large nest of blankets in Negra’s favorite nesting spot. Thinking that it was a little bit on the large side, we decided to count the number of blankets and found that she had made her nest with 31 blankets!! Throughout the course of a day, we place a total of 60 blankets in the Playroom, Greenhouse and Front Rooms, so a 31 blanket nest is quite large and probably quite comfortable. I wonder how many blankets she will use to build tonight’s nest. Unfortunately, I did not think to take a photo, but thought I would share that with you.

Choosing a Companion

August 24th, 2014 by Elizabeth

Each day we put out a variety of enrichment for the chimpanzees to play with. This is usually some assortment of toys, socks, scarves, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, scrub brushes, buckets, paper, stuffed animals, and anything else we think the chimps might enjoy. There are two types of items that we absolutely must include with each day’s enrichment: boots for Jamie and dolls for Foxie.

This morning Foxie spent a few minutes in front of a pile of dolls in the playroom, choosing which one(s) she should carry around for the day.




Foxie frequently uses the bite test to assess a doll’s worthiness:




In the end, she chose all three dolls, and the four of them headed into the greenhouse for some rest.

Today is in memory of Lilian Corrigan

August 24th, 2014 by Katelyn

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Janine Clark in memory of Lilian Corrigan. We are always so touched when someone is moved to provide a special day for the chimpanzees in memory of a loved one or special being in their life. It’s such a beautiful way to honor that individual’s life and send it forward to make the lives of others better.

Janine, thank you so much for thinking of the chimpanzees today and including them in Lilian’s memory!

web Negra sit tall green grass look toward camera Young's Hill YH IMG_8008

Missy Chimpanzee’s 39th Birthday

August 23rd, 2014 by Diana

Today was Missy-centered. The theme was tomatoes, slinky toys, tomatoes, socks, tomatoes, cattails, tomatoes, socks, and kongs with peanuts in them – all favs of Missy.

At our HOOT! gala in May, one of the more interesting items we auctioned off during the live auction was a photography session at the sanctuary with professional photographers Dean Rutz and Karen Ducey. There were two lucky winning bidders, and one of the winners cashed in their session this morning – we can’t wait to share a few of their photos with you!

In the meantime, here are some that the staff took today of the birthday girl, a flashback to one of my favorite videos of Missy, and a few photos of the other chimpanzees enjoying Missy’s birthday.

Missy spent the day, as usual, in action and elusive to the camera.

In the photo below, Missy is climbing one of the tallest structures on the hill during the breakfast forage, which included a lot of – you guessed it – tomatoes!

Missy climbing


Here she is at the top with a mouthful:

Missy behind post


Later, we handed out cattails. Missy decided to take hers inside:

MIssy biting cattail


Missy escaping the watchful eye of the camera, climbing to the bridge in the playroom to enjoy her cattail:

Missy climbing stairs


Missy in a nest playing with a slinky on the catwalk of the playroom:

Missy with a slinky


MIssy removing a kong from a sock:

Missy sit window kong sock

Missy sit window with kong


We put the kongs in socks for the nighttime enrichment in homage to Missy’s own invention, and one of my favorite videos of Missy, taken in 2010 (see below):


The other chimpanzees also had a great time with all of the birthday festivities today.

Jamie explored some new enrichment in the greenhouse:

Jamie with recorder


Jamie cleaning some plastic glasses with a sock:

Jamie with glasses


Negra foraged on the hill for breakfast:

Negra forage on the hill

Negra with a strawberry

Negra with chow


And Annie, proudly, got the tomato piñata during the playroom forage:

Annie with pinata


I posted a little video on Facebook of Missy playing what looks a lot like a thumb war with Negra while they lay next to each other on the catwalk. All in all, it was a pretty great 39th birthday for one of the most athletic, full-of-life chimpanzee people that I’ve ever met. We love you, Missy!

Missy's birthday portrait

Time on the hill

August 22nd, 2014 by J.B.

The chimps are enjoying their forages on Young’s Hill so much more now that it’s cooled down a bit.



This morning, Annie was searching high and low for something in particular. Turns out it was the primate chow she was after.




Jamie almost always smells her food before putting it her mouth. A chimpanzee’s sense of smell is not much different than our own, so this is more of a personality quirk of Jamie’s than a species-typical behavior. We jokingly say that she must think we’re trying to poison her, because she always looks so suspicious when she does it.




When Burrito is in a fight, he demonstrates an unbelievable combination of speed and athleticism. He can jump from the second story of the playroom down to the first, land on the concrete floor, and then take off running without skipping a beat. He’ll leap across the greenhouse and catch himself with one hand. But for some reason, when he’s not fighting he’s capable of tripping over his own feet.



Last night we had the pleasure of hanging out with Jamie past sunset. Most of the chimps voluntarily go to bed around 5:30, just after we serve dinner. This is just as true in the winter when the sun goes down at 4:30 as it is in the summer when it stays light until 10:00. As soon as they finish their after dinner food puzzles, they start collecting blankets to make their nests around the playroom. But summer nights in Cle Elum are beautiful, and Jamie sometimes wants her caregivers to stay out with her for a few extra walks. This was the last of Jamie’s four after dinner walks around the hill, just before 8:00. When she decided she was done for the day, she gathered her cowboy boots and a pile of blankets and headed for the playroom.


Easy To Please

August 21st, 2014 by Elizabeth

Caring for captive chimpanzees can be a challenge. They are intelligent and curious, and they get bored easily. We’ve written before on this blog about how much effort it takes to keep the boss Jamie happy and enriched.

Burrito, though, is remarkably easy to please. He has few demands, and the ones he has are simple. He yearns for a full belly (the fuller, the better) and friends to play with. Luckily, we’re all about good food and good friends here, so Burrito is a pretty content man.


During a break between cleaning this morning, I went out to the greenhouse to see what the chimps were up to. As soon as Burrito saw me, he stomped his foot loudly on the platform to invite me to play a game of chase. I was more than happy to oblige.




Jody and Cabana Day

August 20th, 2014 by Katelyn

One of the most challenging things about caring for chimpanzees in captivity is keeping their highly intelligent minds active and engaged. We actually have a calendar on which we plan out enrichment themes for each day. While we don’t expect the chimpanzees to be aware of our themes, it helps the humans think outside the box when coming up with activities that the chimpanzees might find interesting. Sometimes our ideas are a hit and sometimes they flop. But presenting many of the same items the chimps see on a daily basis in different ways allows them the choice to engage or not, create their own project, or ignore it entirely. Even if they don’t appear interested in something, seeing their captive environment from a different perspective can still be enriching.

Today’s enrichment theme was “Cabana Day.” Sometimes our ideas are equally enriching for the humans! Debbie and volunteer caregiver, Joel, put a significant amount of effort into creating “cabanas” in both the greenhouse:


and the playroom:


It’s always interesting to see how each of the chimpanzees responds to the different themes. Annie enjoyed resting under the blankets briefly before Missy ran in and tore many of them down. Most of the chimps weren’t too sure what to think and many chose to engage in other activities. But for Jody, it became a mission to dismantle the cabanas and untie each and every blanket which she clearly needed for her nest.




Once she had taken care of the blankets in the greenhouse, she moved to the blankets in the playroom. Jody climbed up every spot of caging to untie the blankets, carry them to one of her favorite nesting spots by the barn doors and set to work getting each of the knots out so she could start building her nest. I had to wonder if she was thinking, “These crazy humans, what were they thinking?!”


Finally! Jody was able to get to work putting her nest together:


Now for the self-grooming and relaxing:



While we can’t know what Jody was thinking during her hard work, she definitely seemed enriched.


August Birthdays

August 19th, 2014 by Debbie

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Foxie’s 38th birthday, and One Green Planet shared the birthday video on their site today. Check it out and please share!

Speaking of birthdays, we have another August birthday coming up—Missy is turning 39 this Saturday! We have big plans underway already, including all of Missy’s favorites: socks, slinkies, kongs, and tomatoes!

Here’s some recent photos of the upcoming birthday girl:




Missy and Annie (this picture was posted to our Instagram the other day for the 100 Happy Days challenge)


If you want to contribute toward the birthday festivities, make a donation today in Missy’s name, or become one of her pals!