To run or not to run

October 29th, 2014 by Katelyn

The day started out cold, foggy and damp. Missy chose to spend the morning inside trying out a variety of nests, some her own and some belonging to other people. By mid afternoon the fog had lifted and Missy was contemplating whether or not to take a run on Young’s Hill. She sat in the doorway to the raceway watching Jamie (who had gone on several walks by this time, undeterred by the weather). Should I?

Shouldn’t I?


Should I?


Shouldn’t I?


She finally launched out of the raceway and ran up to the treat rock where she seemed to resume her debate.





After climbing the structures for a few minutes she decided to run back and continue her contemplations from the comfort of the greenhouse, grooming with her best friend, Annie, and getting back to the business of building nests.


I cannot express how grateful I am that Missy, and all the chimpanzees, get to have so many choices that they sometimes cannot decide what to do from moment to moment.


Happy Birthday, Vicki!

October 29th, 2014 by Katelyn

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Vicki Brabandt! Today also happens to be Vicki’s birthday and she has generously chosen to celebrate her special day by enriching the lives of the chimpanzees! Vicki has a passion for all great apes and wants to express her gratitude to everyone providing care for them. We are always amazed at the wonderful people the chimpanzees bring into our lives and are thrilled the chimps are supported by so many with such care and compassion.

Vicki, thank you so much for sharing your day with the chimpanzees! From all of the primates here at CSNW we wish you the happiest of birthdays!


We have another birthday girl this week! On Halloween Jamie (or as we like to refer to it, “Jamie-ween”) turns 37! It’s one of the biggest parties of the year here at the sanctuary so be sure to check back for the festivities.

Happy chickens, food, and thanks!

October 28th, 2014 by Debbie

We have been very fortunate lately to receive some awesome food donations—Darwin pet food company has donated cases and cases of fresh produce the last few months which has certainly reduced our food bill every month! We are so appreciative, and so are the chimpanzees. Just check out one of the hauls:


And here’s some of the celery they donated being enjoyed by Annie and Negra:


And Missy snacking on a beet:

Part of our food philosophy is that the chimps have a primarily plant-based diet, which is why we’re so thankful for the Darwin’s donations! Recently we thought about seeing if the chimps like eggs, which would be a great source of protein for them in addition to the nuts they already eat and protein powder in their morning smoothie. It just so happens that I’m the proud caretaker of a few happy chickens who roam around my house (which is seated on a large family farm just outside Ellensburg).



I’ve always been thrilled to share the ladies’ eggs with friends and family, giving them the opportunity to have eggs from free-roaming chickens. So I decided to bring in some hard-boiled eggs for the chimps to see if they would like them! It turns out that they were no stranger to having eggs before. Though we expected that they would be weary of eating such a strange item, and it might take a few tastes to decide if they liked them or not, we were surprised to see their reaction—they definitely know what eggs are and they definitely like them. Negra was absolutely beside herself when she saw me walking out with the eggs, food squeaking with delight. The other chimpanzees quickly came over to get the exciting snack.


Foxie, however, is not so sure about eggs. She’s always been more hesitant to try new things (even if she ends up loving those things eventually). The first time we served the eggs, Foxie sniffed it and tossed it to the ground. She then went around and watched everyone eating their egg to see what was so exciting about it. The second time we served them, I peeled one for Foxie (while everyone else was happy to receive their with the shell and peel them on their own) and she took a quick bite before dropping the other half on the ground. Annie was very pleased to pick up Foxie’s leftovers, and Foxie very intensely food peered while Annie ate her eggs. This very uncomfortable looking behavior is a common act in chimpanzee culture, and Foxie especially likes to food-peer. Perhaps after watching the other chimps happily eat their eggs twice now, the third time will be the charm for Foxie!



Knowledge and Responsibility

October 27th, 2014 by Keri

I’m often told how great it must be to have a job caring for chimpanzees and I have to agree. There are so many highlights of working at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. Of course, there are the chimpanzees, each with their own unique and inspiring qualities. And there are the incredibly compassionate and dedicated staff members, volunteers and donors that work on behalf of the Cle Elum Seven. Add in a beautiful setting and its the perfect job.

The truth is, I love my job, but I really wish it didn’t exist. The reality is there has to be chimpanzees in captivity for me to be a chimpanzee caretaker. But, chimpanzees do not belong in captivity. Period.

A past teacher of mine used to say “With knowledge comes responsibility”. I didn’t realize just how much those four words would mean until I started learning more about the fate of chimpanzees in the entertainment and biomedical industries and those kept as pets. Once I learned the fates of those chimpanzees, I stopped buying cards with pictures of chimpanzees “smiling” and I stopped watching movies with chimpanzees in them. But, I wanted to do more; I felt I had a responsibility to do more.

So, I am trying to do that, by helping to make captivity the best that it can possibly be for the chimpanzees of CSNW. This means respecting them as individuals, giving them choices, providing daily enrichment, sharing their stories and advocating for them and all apes.

These are the seven chimpanzees that I work for.








Enjoying the Sunshine and the Tea Party

October 26th, 2014 by Keri

The chimpanzees were excited to make the most of the sunshine this morning by spending time on Young’s Hill. Jody was the first to venture outside, followed by Burrito, Jamie, Foxie, Missy and then Annie. Negra was close; she made it to the raceway that leads out to the hill, then sat down and looked outside.

Missy and Annie shared a few quiet minutes sitting together on top of the shaky bridge.


As soon as Missy spotted Jamie, she jumped down from the bridge and ran after her. And then Jamie took turns running after Missy.




And then Foxie joined Annie on the shaky bridge. (Annie is facing away from the camera)


In the mean time, Negra sat quietly in the Greenhouse, near the raceway, alternating between looking outside and inspecting her hand.



Jody gathered some bamboo before heading back to the greenhouse to relax and groom herself.




Meanwhile, volunteers Erin and Jake set up a tea party for the chimpanzees in the Playroom for today’s “Tea Party” theme. Jamie was all about it. After drinking the tea, she inspected the inside of each cup; turning it upside down, sticking her fingers in the cup and then licking them. She gives meaning to the saying “Good to the last drop”






And Burrito spent the better part of the rainy afternoon grooming his good friend Foxie.



Greenhouse Napping

October 25th, 2014 by Diana

It’s hard to remember, but the space that we now call the greenhouse used to be the chimpanzees’ only outdoor area.

building without Young's Hill

Karen and Don Young visited in 2009, and we conceived the idea of encasing the caging in removable polycarbonate panels so that the chimpanzees could enjoy this space year round! The Youngs kicked off donations for this project and we raised the rest of the greenhouse funds at our 2009 auction.

Construction began in late 2009 and early 2010 (because what better time to embark on a construction project than winter?!). Those were some cold construction days, as Jim Spencer I’m sure still remembers.

greenhouse construction in snow

The result for the chimpanzees was so worth it! The greenhouse is their favorite area year round.

greenhouse in snow

When the weather starts to warm up in the spring, J.B. removes some of the panels, leaving the roof, so the chimpanzees enjoy their summer lounging in an indoor-outdoor space.

web jb removing greenhouse panels view youngs hill

Then, around this time of year (today, for example), J.B. buttons up the greenhouse for the winter, so the chimpanzees can enjoy the cooler months in the protected area that heats up with the rays of the sun, or, in the case of today, keeps out the rain.

Today, Jamie enjoyed nesting and napping up high on the platform today, where it’s warmest, as it poured and blew outside:

Jamie sleeping on platform

Jamie at rest

Jamie close up under blanket

Jamie with eyes closed

And, of course, she also ventured onto Young’s Hill during breaks in the rain.

Jamie standing on Young's Hill

Happy Birthday, Mary Ann!

October 25th, 2014 by Katelyn

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Patrick and Carrie Hardie in honor of Mary Ann Hardie with the following message:

“It’s Mary Ann’s special day – warm wishes for a wonderful birthday from your big sister and brother-in-law.”

Patrick and Carrie, thank you so much for all you do for the chimpanzees! We are so touched that you would think of them in honoring Mary Ann on her birthday. Mary Ann, from all of us at CSNW, we hope you have a beautiful day full of all the things you love most – your own day of sanctuary. Happy Birthday!!

Jody always seems to know just how to enjoy every minute of her life:


Safety in numbers

October 24th, 2014 by J.B.

Hank the hawk continues to use the sanctuary as his hunting grounds. But while the chimps were once scared of him, some of them are starting to enjoy having him around, if only for the excitement that he provides.

This morning, Missy was sitting quietly on a climbing structure on Young’s Hill.


Foxie was nearby, with troll in hand.


Missy approached Foxie and reached out her hand, holding it under Foxie’s chin.


Then suddenly, she stood up, climbed down the ladder, and swung on the fire hose.


She leaped off the fire hose and into a full sprint toward the top corner of Young’s Hill, where the hawk had been perched just days before.


As soon as she reached the top, she turned and ran back to the climbing structure.


And swung on the fire hose again.


The other chimps took notice of Missy’s antics and started to move towards the top of the hill. Missy continued jumping, leaping, and tight rope walking while they gathered.


They began to congregate on the platform closest to the top of the hill.


They all looked around for any sign of the hawk.


Finally, Jody walked toward the corner to get a better look.


But Jody, it seems, does not share Missy’s sense of adventure. Not yet, at least.


For now, she’d rather play it safe.


An afternoon on the hill

October 23rd, 2014 by Elizabeth

Today after lunch I stepped outside to see what the chimpanzees were up to. I found Annie all alone on Young’s Hill, having a quiet moment.


Considering Annie is the lowest chimp in the hierarchy, she’s looking awfully confident these days.


A while later, boss Jamie (right) came outside and Annie offered her a submissive greeting.







Eventually Missy came out, and she and Jamie started up the hill for a perimeter walk. But just when they were getting started, a brief scuffle broke out in the greenhouse and Jamie ran inside to sort things out.

After that bit of drama, the boss was ready for a nap.


The relentless hawk

October 22nd, 2014 by Debbie

The hawk saga has continued this week and the chimps are still on high alert. Last week, J.B. posted about a hawk that caused the chimps to be somewhat apprehensive.

Here’s a couple shots of the hawk (we’re calling him Hank).



Since Hank has been hanging out this whole week, the chimps are more used to his presence, but they are still very territorial. Today, Missy was still a little apprehensive and took cover inside the tunnel, and then ran back toward the safety of the chimp house. But Foxie, Jody, and Jamie were on patrol letting Hank know who’s in charge.

Missy emerging from the tunnel:


Foxie, Jody, and Jamie on alert:

And then on patrol to secure the rest of the territory:


Jamie took one last look back to make sure Hank learned his lesson:

It’s really great getting to see the chimps exhibit such a naturalistic behavior—patrolling the fence line and defending their home.