Farm to Table

August 27th, 2015 by Elizabeth

Lunchtime at the sanctuary might be the most peaceful time of day. The chimpanzees have settled down from the morning excitement, and are usually grooming one another or playing quietly when we bring out the lunch tray.

This afternoon’s lunch included some cucumbers and tomatoes straight from the sanctuary’s vegetable garden, lovingly maintained by volunteer caregiver Denice. Everything tastes better when it’s garden fresh…

Nesting accessories

August 26th, 2015 by Katelyn

If you’ve been following the blog for awhile you are probably aware that we talk a lot about enrichment for the chimpanzees. Things for them to play with, nest with, investigate, use as tools, make projects with, encourage natural behaviors, or use for whatever comes to their minds. Even the best facilities for captive chimpanzees will never be able to fully replicate their natural lives in the wild. And chimpanzees, who experience the world in much the same way that humans do emotionally and intellectually, are going to get bored in captivity at some point, despite the best of care. Keeping their active minds busy and their days interesting is one of the biggest challenges we face as caregivers.

We provide a variety of items for the chimps each day and everything comes out each morning to be cleaned and is replaced with new items. For the humans, there are two enrichment calendars hanging in the chimp house, one for daytime enrichment and one for evening enrichment. Each day, thanks to Keri, our Enrichment Coordinator, notes a particular “theme” for the day and a particular food puzzle for the evening. For example for daytime enrichment it might be “trolls in socks” day, “yellow” day, or “garden” day. The themes are really a way for the humans to think outside the box and try to present the same things in a new and interesting way for the chimps.

The enrichment theme for today was “giant pile” meaning that after we cleaned the chimp house, we put their fresh blankets and enrichment for the day in a giant pile in the middle of playroom. The chimps each took turns collecting the items they wanted from the pile and went their way. Jody took her time and pulled together quite a array of items she needed to nest with. After choosing an armful of blankets, she found a paper bag and decided to make a lovely wadge as she looked out over the garden. A wadge is a ball of food or something fibrous that chimps like to place in their bottom lips to suck on.




Once Jody had her blankets and wadge situated, she chose the dolls she needed. She decided on two trolls and a Dora doll, sticking two in her pelvic pocket and carrying one. Then she headed upstairs to find a quiet corner to construct her nest.



But it can be precarious carrying all of that stuff upstairs and once Jody reached the loft, she dropped one of the trolls down below. Much to my surprise, she came all the way back downstairs, rescued the fallen baby, and decided while she was at it she should grab some more blankets. Then she headed back upstairs with another precarious load covering her head. It’s hard work gathering the perfect nesting accessories.



First Impressions: Burrito

August 25th, 2015 by Anna

This afternoon I went in to shoot some photos of Burrito in the greenhouse. Instead of relaxing on a platform while I snapped a few photos, he immediately sauntered up to the caging (with a blue cup in his mouth) and initiated a game of tug with a plastic tube.

This presented a challenge in photography as it can be difficult to decently capture up-close images of a wily chimpanzee. I did my best though. My first impression of Burrito? Charming!

On a side note, this is a photo of Jody wearing a rainbow sock. Enjoy!

Jamie’s latest project

August 24th, 2015 by Keri

Chimpanzees use a variety of tools for a variety of different projects. In the wild, they have been seen using sticks to fish for termites, stones for breaking open hard shells to get at nuts inside, and have even been seen using mashed up leaves as sponges to soak up water.

Here at the sanctuary, Jamie chimpanzee is no stranger to using tools to get what she wants. For example, we often put pieces of food outside of the caging and just out of finger reach to give the chimps a project to work on. Jamie will often use long plastic straws, pieces of cardboard or even sticks that she brings in from Young’s Hill to get the food items. But, sometimes she seems to love using tools just for the sake of using them. Today she took the enrichment tools we set out to work on one of the doors in her indoor enclosure. After some initial inspection, she got right to work.

Maybe she was just making sure the door was properly maintained.

Happy Birthday, Missy!

August 23rd, 2015 by Elizabeth

It’s hard to believe that youthful, exuberant, energizer-bunny Missy is turning 40 today. She might be in the running for World’s Most Sprightly 40 Year Old Chimpanzee. Missy makes us smile everyday with her enthusiasm for life, her legs that never stop running, and her complete devotion to her chimp family. Today, we celebrate her.

Volunteer caregiver Patti put together an 80s-themed party for Missy’s big day. Naturally this included leg warmers, socks, and sweatbands in neon colors (including a few for caregivers to wear), and homemade Rubik’s Cube pinatas. We firmly believe a party is not a party without streamers, so we decked out the greenhouse with those too. Fruit smoothie “shots” in Dixie cups, apples, plums, tomatoes (Missy’s favorite), and primate chow rounded out the celebration.
























For Missy, no day is complete without some serious adventure, so we scattered a lunch forage on Young’s Hill. And adventure she did:






To everyone who contributed to Missy’s party, sponsored today, or just sent happy thoughts to the birthday girl, thank you!

Happy Birthday, Martha!

August 23rd, 2015 by Katelyn

This day of sanctuary and birthday celebrations was also sponsored by Sandra Clardy in honor of Martha Faulkner’s birthday! Martha is such a wonderful friend to the chimpanzees and she does so much to ensure they have the lives they deserve. And we couldn’t be happier that she has chosen to celebrate her special day here with the chimpanzees by attending our summer visit program today!

Sandra, thank you for choosing to honor Martha by making a difference in the chimpanzees’ lives with such a thoughtful and compassionate gift.

And Martha, thank you so much for all that you do for the chimpanzees! From all of the primates here at CSNW, we wish you the happiest of days full of all that brings you love and joy. Happy Birthday!!

And special birthday pant-hoots from your pals, Burrito and Jody:

Burrito and Jody with bamboo

Birthday preparations for Missy’s 40th party are underway this minute so be sure to check back later today to see the festivities. We are so grateful for all that we have to celebrate today! Thanks to all of you for making such days possible!

Today is for Missy and the “Wagmanagerie”!

August 23rd, 2015 by Katelyn

There is so much to celebrate today and we’re so fortunate to have had two people sponsor this day of sanctuary! Our first sponsor, Martin Hollander, sponsored today in honor of his chimpanzee pal, Missy, on her birthday, as well as his human pals, Bruce and Deb Wagman, and their animal family, all lovingly referred to as “the Wagmanagerie.”

Bruce and Deb volunteer countless hours in countless ways to ensure the well-being and life long care of the chimpanzees. They are compassionate and generous beings who advocate tirelessly to improve the lives of so many animals. We are honored to have them as part of our chimpanzee family. Deb and Bruce, we love you guys and hope today is full of love, comfort and joy for you.

Deb and her buddy, Burrito:

web_burrito and deb play in tunnel IMG_0103

And we also celebrate beloved Missy as she turns 40 years young today! Missy is one of those amazing people who despite everything she has suffered, lost and endured, has opened the door to her life in sanctuary and run toward it. Figuratively and literally. She seems to embrace every minute of her days whether she is running across Young’s Hill or through the chimp house with utter joy and abandon, chasing her best friend, Annie, foraging for wild greens, racing her caregivers to the garden window to ask for tomatoes, or backing up her chimpanzee family without hesitation. She is such a special chimpanzee woman. We love you Missy! Happy Birthday!!


Martin, thank you so much for sponsoring such a special day and for all that you do for Missy and her family!

Check back shortly to learn about our second sponsor for the day!

Chimpanzees and insect eating

August 22nd, 2015 by Diana

When I started to write this, J.B. was leading a Summer Visit tour:

JB giving presentation

I’d be willing to bet that one of the things he explained is what we put in the termite mound / treat rock on Young’s Hill. Generally, what we say is that the termite mound mimics ant hills or termite mounds that chimpanzees encounter in the wild, and we provide the chimpanzees with tools to access the goodies inside. It’s great enrichment because it involves tool use and problem solving, and it taps into natural chimpanzee behavior.

The difference, we explain, is that chimpanzees in captivity do not appreciate termites and ants! They react to “bugs” the same way most industrialized human cultures do – as a nuisance, but definitely not as a source for food. And that is why, instead of insects, we put things like mashed up bananas and/or peanut butter in the mound for the chimpanzees to fish out.

The chimpanzees, however, have a way of proving what we say to be wrong. I still don’t think that any of the chimpanzees would appreciate it if we put insects in the pvc tubes that screw into the termite mound, but Jamie and Missy have recently discovered a surprising delicacy – wasp larvae.

This is doubly surprising, given that the chimps certainly do not like wasps, and Jamie has been stung before. Apparently, that risk is worth harvesting this new treat. I wonder how they even discovered that the nests contained something they would like!

Here are a few photos I managed to get of Jamie with a nest that she brought in from Young’s Hill:

Jamie with a wasps' nest


Jamie with a wasps' nest 4


Jamie with a wasps' nest 3


Watching her, it wasn’t entirely clear to me how much of the larvae she was eating, because she seemed to be selectively eating some parts and not others, but she was clearly enjoying the experience:

Jamie with a wasps' nest 2


I haven’t been able to capture any photos of Missy with wasp nests, so you’ll have to take my word that she is very excited when she has a nest, perhaps even more so than Jamie.


Speaking of Missy, it’s her 40th birthday tomorrow!!!

Missy on the hill

Above is a photo of Missy from today as she took a rest before running the perimeter of Young’s Hill.


I defy anyone to call Missy old – she has one of the youngest spirits I’ve known in a chimpanzee. Whether she is searching for wasp nests, running like mad, wrestling with her BFF Annie, or demanding garden tomatoes, she demonstrates, daily, a sense of freedom that she’s found in her second chance at life (read this blog post from 2014 about Missy’s quite literal second chance).

We will be having a big celebration for Missy 40th tomorrow, so be sure to check here on the blog for photos of the party and wish her a happy birthday!

Thank you, Christine!

August 22nd, 2015 by Katelyn

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Christine Ponticelli! Christine, thank you so much for thinking of the chimpanzees and giving them a special day as they celebrate life as they choose. We hope your day is full of all that sanctuary means to you and is one that is full of the love and joy you help ensure for these amazing chimpanzees.

Sanctuary probably means more to the chimpanzees than we could ever fully imagine. But here are three of your friends embracing their lives:

Jamie, finally gets to call the shots on how, and with whom, she spends her time:

Jamie in the tall grass

Jody gets to explore and forage for her own wild snacks to bring back and enjoy in the comfort of her nest:


And Negra gets to discover a new definition for solitude, surrounded by loved ones in a safe and comfortable home to heal at her own pace:


Troll Scarf Tug-o-War

August 21st, 2015 by J.B.

It’s already being heralded as the match of the century – Jamie vs Foxie in an epic Troll Scarf Tug-o-War battle! Turn up your sound for the full effect.