Annie, interrupted

February 26th, 2017 by Keri

Last month, I was taking pictures of Annie quietly grooming herself in the Playroom. Jamie barged in (clearly on a mission), interrupting the otherwise serene moment. Today, I was going through the photos from that day and I couldn’t help but be impressed and inspired by Annie’s flexibility. I’m in even more awe at how easy she makes this look, especially after trying to recreate the same “yoga” pose myself.

The ever beautiful Annie.

who they are

February 25th, 2017 by Diana

Today I was thinking about what we know about the chimpanzees at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest – all of those little things that add up to who they are, or at least how we see them.


Foxie with Dora


I was thinking about how different experiences shape personalities and how exposure to new environments, activities, and other beings lead people to discover new things about themselves.



Jody looking at snow


And I was wondering if the chimpanzees realize how much better they know themselves now than they did eight and a half years ago.





For the love of boots

February 24th, 2017 by J.B.

Volunteers Stephanie and Patti brought Jamie a western wear catalogue today. It’s always amazing to watch her flip through the magazine and linger over the pages with her favorite boots.

Sun and Sanctuary

February 23rd, 2017 by Anna

Sunshine, chimpanzees, and melting pathways. What could be better?


Foxie (and Dora):


Just a trim

February 22nd, 2017 by Anna

Each Christmas the chimpanzees receive their own potted pine tree as part of the festive decorations. We leave it in the greenhouse for them to enjoy during the rest of the winter months, and then we can plant it on Young’s Hill in the spring. Slowly, but surely, the chimps prune a little bit off the tree almost every day.


Here’s what the tree looked like its first day with the chimps:

And here it is today (decorated with some enrichment):

Saying good morning!

February 21st, 2017 by Anna

Most mornings at the sanctuary are filled with the raucous sounds of Burrito’s displaying. He seems to think that the mornings are the ideal time to rattle doors and chase the girls around the playroom. For a chimpanzee, especially a male chimpanzee, this is typical behavior. Some mornings are quieter than others though, and on these more peaceful mornings (or in breaks between Burrito’s whirlwind of chaos), caregivers get the chance to say proper hellos to the chimps.

Negra and volunteer caregiver Yuri:

Who is that?!

February 20th, 2017 by Katelyn

If you’ve been following the blog for awhile you’ve probably seen us frequently writing about various aspects of safety and security. Things like the fact that we never enter an area that the chimpanzees have access to, the importance of clearly identifying each chimpanzee and which areas they do have access to all, as part of our safety checks before we enter an area we need to clean. (Diana mentioned chimp ID in a recent blog post as part of the training our Level II and III volunteers and interns go through.)

Of course the chimps don’t give two hoots (no pun intended) if we can identify them when we need to or not. We often have to twist and turn and climb and crawl and contort into all manner of positions in an attempt to positively identify each person. Many times all we might be able to see is an ear, a finger – or maybe a bum and some toes – so it can be a challenge to gain a better view.

For example, any ideas who this is?

As a disclaimer and if you’re new to the blog you are going to see the chimps behind caging in some of the following photos and it may appear they are limited to a small cage. The chimps tend to seek out small, cozy corners to nest in (don’t most of us?) and are often up against the caging so we can’t always get close enough to get a photo or to get one safely. And the reality is, the chimpanzees are captive beings, no matter how much space and light we provide through the designs of their enclosure, it is just that, an enclosure. While none of us like to see the chimps behind caging, it’s a reality for their safety as well as ours. And keep in mind they have 1800 square feet of open enclosure with stairs, a catwalk, bridges, ledges, fire hoses, a green house with tiered platforms and their beloved 2-acre outdoor enclosure, Young’s Hill.

We never identify a chimpanzee based on what items they may or may not have with them, but they definitely give us some clues. Any ideas who the following people are?:

The chimp house was SO quiet and peaceful and the only sound in the greenhouse was the rain falling on the roof. It’s not super common to have everyone sound asleep at the same time so I tried not to disturb anyone with my photo taking. But as quiet as I tried to be, nothing, and I mean nothing, gets by chimpanzees so it wasn’t long before a couple people began waking up to see what I was doing (I would tell you who is in the next three photos, but I don’t want to give away the above photos!):

Foxie was sound asleep on the floor of the front rooms, but despite my tactic of lying on my belly and crawling to sneak up to her, well, you see how that went.

Natural lighting makes all the difference

February 19th, 2017 by Keri

The natural lighting that shines through the window in one of the Front Rooms (one area of the chimps’ indoor living space), makes all the difference when taking photos of the chimps. We call this area “The Portrait Studio.” The lighting bathes them in a natural glow and makes most photos of them more crisp and clear than photos taken of them anywhere else in the indoor enclosures.



Jody: Head, Shoulders….

February 18th, 2017 by Diana

Part of being a Level II volunteer at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is working towards passing identification tests for all of the chimpanzees.

We have some new interns from Central Washington University’s Primate Behavior and Ecology Program right now who are working on their id skills.

Something about helping with id today got a song stuck in my head…


Here’s Jody’s…



Jody head



jody shoulders



Jody knees


and Toes

Jody toes



Jody knees


and Toes

jody toes 2





Jody eyes


and Ears:

Jody ears


and Mouth:

Jody drooped lip face


and Nose:

Jody nose



…. what do you think? Could you id Jody now?


Actually, a few years ago, Elizabeth did some blog posts for each of the chimpanzees to help blog readers with id that are probably much more helpful – check them out if you’re interested!


Balancing act

February 17th, 2017 by J.B.

Each time we build a new play structure on Young’s Hill, we connect it to nearby structures using fire hose. This allows the chimps to move from place to place without touching the ground, a feature that is particularly handy when that ground is covered in snow. We also shovel pathways for them, but hey, tightrope walking is way more fun.

Their balance is incredible, aided in part by those opposable big toes.

And when they lose their balance, they can always fall back on their superhuman strength.