Feeling Silly

May 21st, 2017 by Elizabeth

One of the worst parts of this job is having to watch the chimps be so dang happy all the time.

Happy Birthday, Michael!

May 21st, 2017 by Katelyn

Today the chimps received a beautiful gift of a day of sanctuary, sponsored by Michael Miller! Today is Michael’s birthday and he shared this gift for the chimps would be “a good way to celebrate turning another year older ๐Ÿ™‚ thank you for your work!”

Michael, it’s amazing that you would start your day, and your own celebration, by not only thinking of the chimps, but contributing to their lives and well-being! Thank you so much for your generosity. All of us here at the sanctuary wish you the best of birthdays! It’s a phenomenally beautiful day here at the sanctuary – looking out the window, Ellie the neighborhood elk is dozing in the shaded, tall, green grass, the chimps are lounging together in the bright, sun-warmed greenhouse and periodically running out onto Young’s Hill to enjoy this beautiful spring day.

Happy Birthday, Michael!

Jamie on Twister

Missy making choices

May 20th, 2017 by Diana

Last night, Dr. Steve Ross from Lincoln Park Zoo spoke at nearby Central Washington University. He was invited by the Primate Awareness Network, which is a CWU student organization affiliated with the Primate Behavior and Ecology (PBE) program.

This is a really unique program, so I’m going to take a moment to give it some advertising. It’s the only program that I’m aware of in the country that offers an undergraduate degree in Primate Behavior. A master’s degree is also offered, and now there’s yet a third option for those who are seeking formal education in primate care – a certificate program that provides students with all skills and experiences listed by the International Primatological Society for Animal Technician, and some skills and experiences listed for Senior Animal Technician.

All of the staff who work at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest have been trained at some level at CWU. J.B. and I met there when we were enrolled in the graduate level program many, many years ago when there were still chimpanzees on campus (the last of the group of five chimpanzees who were part of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at CWU, Tatu and Loulis, now live with other chimpanzees at the Fauna Foundation, Canada’s only chimpanzee sanctuary).

Our sanctuary now works closely with the PBE program, offering intern credit for students who volunteer at the sanctuary. This gives students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience caring for primates while learning about their behavior. J.B. is an adjunct professor within the anthropology department and teaches a course on primate care.

Dr. Ross’s talk last night was about applied animal welfare, in other words, using behavioral research and data collection to gain information about primates that can be directly used to inform captive management decisions to improve individual welfare.

Dr. Ross stressed the importance of recognizing individual differences and letting the individuals tell you what they need and want based on their behavior.

And that brings me to my very informal observation of one of the individuals at CSNW today: Missy


As Jamie and Burrito were leading me on a walk around the 2-acre hill enclosure (me on the outside of the electric fence, of course), and Negra was taking a nap in the very warm greenhouse, Missy was out and about on her own mission to find and eat wild plants. She traversed across the hill, stopping occasionally to sample a bit of greenery.



It might be said that Missy has a bit more “wild and free” in her than some of the other chimpanzees. She is comfortable exploring on her own within the landscape of her little piece of nature, while some of the other chimpanzees seem to prefer to the company of others, or, like Negra, choose to venture out only when they are motivated to find a very particular plant during a very particular season.

Choice. This, above all else, is what increases primate welfare the most. When you think about it, much of what we share on the blog are the choices that the chimpanzees are freely making on a daily basis.





Simple pleasures

May 19th, 2017 by J.B.

The other night I watched Negra eat dandelions as the sun began to set over Young’s Hill. I wish it could be spring forever.

Fine Dining

May 18th, 2017 by Elizabeth

There’s nothing quite like savoring a raw onion on a spring afternoon with the birds chirping in the background.

Coming in for a landing

May 17th, 2017 by Anna

More evidence that Missy may actually have built in springs in her knees.

The “missing” chimpanzee

May 16th, 2017 by Anna

This morning as we invited the Cle Elum 7 back into a fresh clean playroom, there was no sign of Negra foraging for pumpkin seeds or making a big nest in the loft. Nor was there any sign of her basking in the sunny greenhouse. The only clue we had to her location was the looks of concern (and maybe awe) on some of her group mates faces as they kept glancing out the door to the raceway of Young’s Hill. Even from our location at the bottom of Young’s Hill we couldn’t see any sign of her, so we set out for a hike around the hill to see if we could spot her. Finally at the top of the enclosure we found her picking wild prickly lettuce underneath a log bridge that shielded her from the wind. Jody, the sanctuary “manager,” who shows the greatest amount of care and concern if anyone goes “missing” or deviates from the day’s schedule, rushed out to collect the queen.

Little Cage to Big World

May 15th, 2017 by Elizabeth

It’s amazing how much someone’s world can grow in a few years.

For Jody and all the mamas

May 14th, 2017 by Katelyn

The weekend of celebrations continues in the chimp house today as we celebrate not only Mother’s Day, but beloved Jody, on her 42nd honorary birthday!

I was in my gracious neighbor’s magical backyard bright and early this morning, heisting two armfuls of lilacs. Many of the chimps enjoy smelling and eating them and even now, late in the day, the scent of fresh lilac occasionally is wafts through their home.

We started the celebration off with a beautiful breakfast forage of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, watermelon, and baby bananas on a bed of lettuce, strawberry and banana smoothie, and more sparkling cider.

The greenhouse was bright and sunny as we set up the party. Pineapple tops are a favorite of the birthday girl so we hoped Jody would find this pokey treat:

And she did:

Nothing says party like shoving an entire pokey pineapple top in your mouth:

Dora had a gift for someone:

Foxie gazing at Dora while enjoying her fresh lilacs and melting my heart into a big ol’ puddle:

Annie enjoying a party plate:

For Jamie, parties are even (or maybe I should say especially) serious business. She was methodically looking for her favorites and keeping a watchful eye on the three pinatas hanging from the ceiling until she could get to them. Jamie loves a challenge so this was her kind of party:

The lilacs are quite popular with a few of the girls and Annie was doing her best to collect some on the sly while avoiding the eyes of the more dominant Missy and Jamie and she collected quite a few:

Gorgeous Missy enjoying a treat box:

Burrito was a wild man all morning long. Riling up the girls, rattling the caging, displaying throughout the chimp house. Pretty much normal stuff, but with an extra dash of wild today. But he did find time to settle down and enjoy the company of his friends on their special day and even went to Annie’s defense to reassure her when she got yelled at for picking the “wrong” lilac:

Burrito and Foxie:

And then there’s Negra, who ended the celebration by collecting all the lilacs she could and winding up with a beautiful bouquet:

Mother’s Day is a special day at the sanctuary. If you’re new to the blog and just learning about the chimps, we only know that Jody was most likely born in the wild sometime in 1975. We chose this day to celebrate Jody in honor of the nine infants she gave birth to, but who were stolen from her during her time in biomedical research. With the exception of Jamie and Burrito, all of the chimps residing here had children and were denied the right to raise them. So today, with full hearts, we honor each of the chimps, their loss of their own mothers, and their children who lost the opportunity to grow up with their amazing mothers. You can learn more about each of their stories here.

Mother’s Day can feel like a bittersweet celebration here at times. But what I am finding is that with each passing year, as we’re astounded and privileged to witness the strength, healing and resiliency of these amazing beings, the pain of knowing the horror they endured for so long starts to fade into the shadows, eclipsed by the incredible light of each of these special souls. While we will always honor all they’ve been through, it’s really become about celebrating all they’ve overcome as unique individuals, the hope and joy they embrace each day with, and the family you’ve made possible for them to have. I hope with all my heart that they feel the same.

Happy Birthday, beautiful Jody!! We love you so very much!! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there! And I really think that’s all of us in some shape or form. ๐Ÿ™‚



May 13th, 2017 by Katelyn

It’s finally here! Our biggest fundraiser of the year, our annual Hoot! Gala and Spring Fling celebration! And while the humans are on their way to one of the most unique and exciting parties in the city, they aren’t the only people partying. The chimps are having their own celebration with a dinner of field roast and roasted sweet potato on a bed of lettuce and cabbage, sparkling cider, and a huge forage with sweet onions, corn on the cob, and fresh coconuts:

On this one day of the year, we have to get the chimps settled in earlier than usual so that staff working in the chimp house have time to get spiffed up and head to the gala. Routine and the comfort and security of knowing what to expect are important to the chimps and we don’t want to veer from that more than necessary or have them getting bored with a little more time on their hands, so a sure fire way to keep everyone active, happy and engaged is to set out an exciting forage cut into teeny, tiny pieces.

Annie sitting in a field of forage:

Burrito was beside himself, as usual when there’s food involved (that’s Jody behind him):

Jamie likes to drag a table around with her during forages for easier collection:

She decided to eat the field roast first and save the rest for later:

While Jamie was occupied elsewhere, Burrito bravely decided to steal her leftover dinner “boats.” I braced myself for Jamie to scream at the top of her lungs (her tactic when someone is touching – or even thinking about touching – something she doesn’t want them to), but she must have decided she found something else worth her attention and Burrito scooped them up without issue and food squeaked to celebrate:

Annie mid food grunt (you can just make out Negra’s ear as she sits in the sunny window below Annie enjoying her dinner with a view):

Jody, ever the adventurous foodie, was collecting corn cobs:

Foxie and Missy were ladies of the loft for this one and out of sight of the camera.

Anna, myself and volunteer, Helen, put the chimps’ dinner out a couple hours ago and Jamie is still foraging!

The chimps are completely silent as I write this so I just went to check on everyone. And who did I find, but this guy, fighting off a food coma in the last sun puddle of the day:

Somehow he mustered enough energy to still be an adorable goof:

But it was so hard:

There are some crazy amazing items of this guy (and more!) up for auction tonight. To all of you who have helped sponsor this amazing celebration, volunteers who have helped plan this party of all parties, to all those working to make it special for our guests, those who are attending the gala and making it so much fun, those who will be raising your paddles high or who have been pre-bidding online, and those of you cheering us on from home, there aren’t enough words of thanks to each of you for making everything that you do, possible. You make this sanctuary for these seven amazing chimpanzees a home. A home filled with love, comfort, joy, adventure and healing. And we hope a home for others, who are awaiting their day in their own sun puddles.

Hoots of love and gratitude from all of us to all of you! Have a fantastic evening and check in tomorrow for our celebration of Jody’s birthday and Mother’s Day! Yep, that’s how we roll in the chimp house…party, after party. Hopefully, Burrito is revived by then…