Jamie, Reinvented

May 25th, 2015 by Elizabeth

Jamie is the undisputed leader of the Cle Elum Seven, but she is not a natural leader.

If Jamie spoke, her catchphrase would be “because I said so.” As a leader, she is not always interested in fairness or leniency. She isn’t interested in hearing your arguments or reasoning or appeals. She knows exactly how she believes things should be, and through sheer determination, she makes it happen.

At the sanctuary, one of our goals is to pinpoint exactly what each chimpanzee needs, and give that to them. Of course, all chimpanzees have basic needs like space to run, fresh air, good food, and other chimps. But beyond those basic needs, each individual has needs of their own. (For Foxie, it’s troll dolls. For Burrito, it’s lots of playtime with caregivers.) What Jamie needs is control and respect.


Decades of being forced to submit to the will of humans who did not always treat her kindly have done a number on Jamie’s confidence. It is very important to her that everyone believes in her dominance, but she doesn’t always believe in herself. She rules with an iron fist because she is insecure. She overcompensates.


It’s no surprise that Jamie isn’t the most skilled leader. When she arrived at the sanctuary seven years ago, she must have felt weary, demoralized, and completely defeated. Her life thus far had been devoid of choice, devoid of control. She was powerless. But Jamie decided to change her destiny. In an environment where she is given room to spread her wings, she has done so in the most astounding way. Her path hasn’t always been smooth, but Jamie has reclaimed the respect and dignity she lost to endless years in the labs. Jamie is the boss of ALL of us.



Seconds, Thirds and Fourths…

May 24th, 2015 by Keri

We put out a lunch forage on Young’s Hill this afternoon and everyone but Negra went outside right away to gather their favorite foods. Some of the chimps made their way back to the Greenhouse to enjoy their tasty morsels out of the wind, while others stayed out eating and foraging along the way. After they had their fill, most of the chimps stayed in the Greenhouse and either napped or groomed one another.

I went out a few times to check on them throughout the afternoon and each time one or more of the chimps was back out on the hill, foraging for the pieces they didn’t find earlier. I love lunch forages because they last all afternoon.

If you were given a choice between raw carrots, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, onions, brussel sprouts, mixed peppers or mushrooms, which would you choose?

Annie seemed to really like the combination of carrots, sweet potatoes and primate chow (by the mouthful).

Missy bypassed the veggies and harvested some fresh green plants to eat on her second outing.

And on what may have been Missy’s fourth trip out onto the hill to look for left overs, she came back to the Greenhouse with a handful of raw mushrooms.




Negra did eventually brave the wind and spent time eating primate chow and grass before returning to the Greenhouse.


Chimpanzee Problem Solving

May 23rd, 2015 by Diana

This is the story of Jody and the sheet. Jody was quite determined to untie this sheet from the fire hose and bring it in with her to make her evening nest.

It appeared to be an easy task at first – she quickly untied one end, but the second end proved more difficult because it was just a bit out of reach. She tried to climb the hose and untie the sheet at the same time, but, even with opposable toes, this did not work out.

She came up with a pretty brilliant solution.

Jody is not known for her athletic skills or her desire to solve puzzles, but when she wants something, she is one determined lady. It goes right along with our most recent e-news article about chimpanzee minds and bodies at work.

I think my favorite photo is #19. What’s yours?

Handsome Mr. B

May 22nd, 2015 by Debbie

I went out to the greenhouse this afternoon to snap a few photos of the chimpanzees—most of whom were lounging in hard-to-see spots, so I was out of luck. However, front and center was Mr. Burrito, looking handsome as ever.





Annie Evolving

May 21st, 2015 by Elizabeth

Annie was not brimming with confidence when she arrived at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. (This is an understatement.) She had a couple of things working against her: her position at the very bottom of the social hierarchy, and decades of history in research labs during which she lived in fear and frequent pain. She had every reason to believe that the world was not kind.

During her early days at the sanctuary, Annie had regular anxiety attacks. If she felt threatened by another chimpanzee, or sometimes for no discernible reason at all, she would throw herself on the ground while screaming and flailing. She was glued to her best friend Missy’s side, and would become noticeably agitated if they were separated. At the sanctuary she was given space to roam, other chimps to play with, nourishing food, and caregivers who adore her. But she was not at ease.

Fast forward almost seven years, and Annie is a different person.


She has shed her old demons and has been hard at work building a whole new Annie. This new Annie is filled with peace and joy and wonder. She plays with friends and stands up for herself during family disagreements and claps her feet and makes bird noises and is not afraid of solitude.


This new Annie greets the world with a glint in her eye.


Today is for Denise and Denis

May 21st, 2015 by Katelyn

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Denise Hathaway-Larsen in honor of her and her brother, Denis’, birthday. Denise shared this touching message about today:

“This is my and my twin brother’s 59th birthday. My twin brother passed away in a motorcycle accident in 2007. My family had the honor of visiting CSNW last summer. We have followed the chimpanzees there for several years and adore them AND their caregivers.”

Denise, it means so much that you would think of giving the chimpanzees a special day as a way to celebrate your and Denis’ lives. We are so sorry for your loss and hope you find much comfort and joy in remembering your brother and your lives together today. Happy Birthday from all of us here at CSNW!

Good friends, Burrito and Foxie:



web Burrito Foxie serious faces dora doll playrooM PR IMG_4549

Coconut crackin’

May 20th, 2015 by Katelyn

As part of the chimpanzees’ enrichment theme for the day, they have been enjoying forages all day! In the wild, chimpanzees spend most of their waking hours foraging for food, often traveling many miles. We try to offer forages as often as we can not only to encourage their natural foraging behavior, but to give them something exciting and interesting to do.

It’s probably the warmest day of the year here so far and we were able to put breakfast and lunch forages on Young’s Hill. What’s also great about Young’s Hill forages is that it keeps the chimpanzees engaged for much of the day as they frequently venture out throughout the day to see if they missed anything.

Dinner forage was set up in the playroom which included sweet potatoes, roasted squash, tomatoes, the best smelling yellow roses from Diana and J.B’s yard, and, the piece de resistance? The chimps’ friend and supporter, Pat C., gifted them with whole coconuts today! As we were setting the forage up I think it was the “food squeaking heard ’round the world.” We broke up a few to make sure everyone would find some and then hid a couple of whole ones as special treats for a couple people to find. Well, let’s be serious, for Jamie to find, and hopefully someone else.

As predicted, Jamie found the first whole coconut and made sure to hang onto it while foraging for everything else:


Thank goodness for those opposable toes:




Foxie found a cup of tomato juice and seemed to enjoy licking spilled coconut milk off the floor:



Negra enjoying her coconut:



Everyone got plenty of coconut pieces, but we couldn’t see who found the other whole coconut. Then we heard someone cracking it on the floor and found Missy looking pretty pleased:




Thanks so much to Pat C. for bringing the chimpanzees such a special treat! Jamie carried her coconut around in a box with her until she finished all the other forage options she wanted. The chimp house is closed up for the evening and most of the chimps are making their nests for the night as they snack on the last bits of the forage. As I type this, I’m smiling because I can hear Jamie finally trying to break that coconut open. Crack…crack…crack…

It’s a jungle out there

May 19th, 2015 by Debbie

Okay, so, not quite a jungle—but the grass is very tall on Young’s Hill and the weeds are at the perfect stage for chimp snacking! Everyone has been on the hill a lot today, Negra was even out there on her own for awhile!

Even after nearly seven years in sanctuary, we still see the chimpanzees growing and truly coming into their own. I find that no matter how many times we see the chimps on the hill, it will never, ever get old. It’s still so awesome to see them outside, in their element foraging for tasty snacks, and sometimes even venturing to a point where we can’t see them!

It’s moments like those that make us reflect on how incredible sanctuary is and how much you all have really changed the lives of the Cle Elum Seven. Young’s Hill would not have been possible without generous gifts from supporters such as yourselves, and the exciting new projects we have in mind would never be able to get off the ground if it weren’t for our remarkable CSNW family. Words could really never say how much your support means to us, or to the chimpanzees, but maybe a few pictures can.

Jody in the grass jungle:





Negra, all on her own munching on some grass and weeds:







We are gearing up for our HOOT! gala in a couple weeks—the biggest fundraiser of the year, where folks can help sustain the sanctuary and support more indescribable moments like Jody getting lost in the grass jungle, and Negra hanging out on the hill all on her own for some delicious dandelion greens.

This year, I have been helping get all the auction items organized and ready for the big night. I’m astounded by all the wonderful items that have been donated! We have a preview site available, so check that out and decide now what you plan to bid on!


Join us May 30th for a fun night and learn more about the last seven years of moments!

Good Clean Fun

May 18th, 2015 by Elizabeth

Today after cleaning the playroom, we put a small drop of non-toxic dish soap in the pool and filled it up with water. The chimpanzees all enjoy soapy water. Jamie sometimes uses it to scrub the floor, while others like to take big mouthfuls of it. They seem to like the sensation of the foamy bubbles in their mouths. There’s no denying it – bubbles are just fun.











The lush life

May 17th, 2015 by Katelyn

Today has been steamy and warm, dark skies threatening to rain in between bursts of hot sun, but not a drop has fallen. Life is full and lush this time of year. It feels as though you could see things grow if you watched close enough. The air is heavily scented with wildflowers and woven with the trilling of birds, the hum of honeybees, and the slow whine of grasshoppers.




Our bluebird pair, despite being gifted with some lovely bluebird houses made by Daniel Anderman and kindly donated to the sanctuary by he and his family, have seemingly chosen to nest on Young’s Hill. Not the wisest choice, but so far they’ve gone undisturbed by the chimpanzees:





While all this was happening outside, this was happening inside: Foxie napping.


When Foxie is happy and content she rubs her toes together. I wonder what she was dreaming about?


It must have been an adventure, because minutes after these photos were taken, Foxie suddenly woke up, swung through the greenhouse with her hair standing on end (pilo erect), Dora the Explorer in hand, and marched with purpose toward Young’s Hill. Her behavior was the same she exhibits when she wants her caregivers to chase her, but what happened next? Everyone, even Jamie, suddenly fell in line behind this mighty little lady with a purpose, as she led them out onto Young’s Hill.

Foxie and Dora lead the way with Jamie, Jody, and Burrito following:


Foxie, Jamie and Jody:


Annie and Missy bringing up the rear (Negra was fast asleep in her nest for this adventure):


Everyone began to disappear into the tall, lush grass as they foraged for wild plants. Occasionally, I caught glimpses of them in between the structures and bamboo.

Jamie and Foxie:












Who knows what, if anything, Foxie may have been dreaming about before leading the way onto the hill, but it brings to mind the words of Thoreau, “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”