The Boss

January 29th, 2015 by Elizabeth

One of the most satisfying things about working at a sanctuary is having the opportunity to give the chimpanzees what they need after decades of deprivation. As a species, chimpanzees need the company of other chimpanzees, good food, fresh air and sunshine, and space to roam. We work hard everyday to meet these needs. But caring for a group of chimpanzees means more than caring for a species; it means caring for unique individuals, all with their own individual needs. Their own personalities, their own interests, their own likes and dislikes. Catering to the needs of each individual chimpanzee we care for is an extremely rewarding challenge.

The individual at the sanctuary who demands the most of us is Jamie. She demands our attention, our patience, our creativity, our respect. Jamie is the self-appointed leader of the group, and she takes this position very seriously. Jamie needs to be respected in the same way that she needs food to eat and air to breathe. She is determined and focused, and she makes what she wants a reality.


It is almost impossible for me to imagine Jamie in the research lab, where for decades she was forced to submit to humans against her will. For someone with so much fire inside her, that had to be torture. These days, Jamie wouldn’t think of letting herself be bossed around. She is finally home – a place where she calls the shots.



As Jamie’s caregivers, it’s our job to give her the opportunity to be who she is and get what she needs. Jamie has no qualms about letting us know what she wants from us, and when we are succeeding or failing. It is our honor to submit to her will.


Happy Birthday, Laura!

January 29th, 2015 by Katelyn

Kipling and Laura Knox sponsored this day of sanctuary for the chimpanzees in celebration of Laura’s birthday! A birthday is a meaningful event when we should all celebrate our own unique existence. So we are always touched when someone chooses to celebrate their own life by making the lives of the chimpanzees better.

Kipling and Laura, thank you! After living for decades with minimal to no choices, comforts or dignity, your compassion and generosity helps us continue to provide the chimpanzees with all the things that mean sanctuary to each of them and to celebrate how very special each of them are, every day.

Laura, we wish you the happiest of birthdays filled with all the love, joy and comforts you have shared with the chimpanzees today!

Foxie loving her Dora dolls:


Burrito overjoyed with chow biscuits:


Jody in the comfort of one of her cozy nests:

web Jody best new blankets nest playroom IMG_2376

Foxie the Explorer

January 28th, 2015 by Katelyn

Foxie was born and raised in a biomedical research facility. Before arriving at the sanctuary she had never experienced grass underfoot or sky over head. She was completely unfamiliar with wind, rain, snow or sun. She grew up unaccustomed to blankets to nest with, enrichment to play with, or the every day challenges her free-living counterparts face which engage their intelligent minds and active bodies. Living as a biomedical research subject, Foxie’s every day challenges were survival based on an entirely different level. What was going to happen each day? Where was she going to be taken? What was going to be done to her? What was going to be taken from her?

Of course, this isn’t just Foxie’s story, but the story of every chimpanzee in biomedical research. As you may be able to imagine, once here in their sanctuary home each of the chimpanzees responded differently to all the options they found suddenly available to them. But it took Foxie awhile to warm up to the idea of investigating all the new enrichment and activities on offer. Like each of the chimpanzees, over six years later it remains an area she continues to make progress in in her own time and way. And given her former life, this isn’t surprising. Changes probably brought about fear and uncertainty and new things probably weren’t to be trusted. When your whole world exists primarily in a cage not much bigger than a bathroom stall the world outside of that, no matter how wonderful, could easily feel overwhelming and terrifying at times.

Knowing this, I couldn’t possibly have more admiration for the courage the chimpanzees display as they push past their own private fears. I remember the first day I found Foxie exploring Young’s Hill all by herself. I had gone out to visit the chimpanzees and found everyone in the greenhouse, relaxing. Everyone except Foxie. When I went to look for her, I was surprised to see her half way up Young’s Hill, with one of her troll dolls on her back, walking hand over hand, foot over foot, into the grass. She stopped briefly to look at me and nod and then carried on her way. It’s hard to express the variety of emotions I had for her in that moment, but it will always be one of my most treasured.

It’s increasingly common these days to find Foxie exploring new territory, particularly Young’s Hill, on her own. She still remains very cautious of the climbing structures and typically avoids the structures that swing or move. But not long ago, I spotted her headed up the hill with a look of purpose. With green haired troll in tow, Foxie was going exploring:



And explore she did. Here she set her “baby” down just long enough to test the structure out by shaking things:


Then she took a minute to confer with the troll:


Biting is a good way to test the sturdiness of things:


Apparently happy with the results, she decided to enjoy her perch for a few moments. But look at that expression of determination:



Foxie went on to climb and investigate more of Young’s Hill that day than I have seen her do before. It was a side of her I hadn’t seen before and one I felt so privileged to witness. But so much more than that, was the joy and gratitude I felt for whatever had healed in her enough that allowed her desire to explore to outweigh her fear. And to feel safe being that much more herself.


Missy’s athletic prowess

January 27th, 2015 by Debbie

Missy is a very athletic individual. She especially loves to run, and if she accompanies Jamie on a walk around the hill, she will usually pause for a minute and let Jamie get ahead—just so she can sprint to catch up. She often has a playface when running around Young’s Hill, so she clearly gets a lot of joy from it. I would imagine after decades in a lab it must feel so freeing.

In between sprints, Missy will take brief moments to look across the valley surrounding the sanctuary. Sometimes she likes to climb up to a high perch in order to take in the view. The other day I was able to get a photo of Missy on one of the high posts, but only for a minute before she scrambled down to the ground for some more running. It’s very impressive to watch her climb down one of these posts!

Missy sit on post

Missy climb down post

Missy climb down post

Missy climb down post

Missy climb down post

Missy climb down post and eat snow

Today at the sanctuary

January 26th, 2015 by Elizabeth

We’re all a little stunned by the gorgeous weather we’re having today. The chimpanzees are in great moods and are making the most of their day. Here are our favorite photos from this morning and afternoon. (Don’t let these photos fool you; these all happened to be taken indoors, but the chimps are enjoying a ton of time outside today in the sunshine.)

Foxie inspecting a chow biscuit:


Negra looking out the window:


Jamie with a toothbrush:


Jody with a mouthful of chow at breakfast:


Missy wading through a box of enrichment:




Burrito during today’s breakfast forage:


Happy Birthday, Julie!

January 26th, 2015 by Katelyn

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Julie Harding, as a way to celebrate her birthday! Julie has been a long-time volunteer with the sanctuary helping out with everything from processing the chimpanzees’ donated produce and prepping their meals, to making sure they have clean blankets to nest in and interesting enrichment to play with. She even helps out at our events!

Julie shared the following message: “In honor of my 57th trip around the sun, I’m sponsoring this day. Happy birthday to me and I hope to continue to support the CE7 for many years!!”

Julie, thank you so much for wanting to share your day with the chimpanzees and for the variety of ways in which you help to ensure that every day is one of sanctuary for them. All of the primates here wish you the best birthday yet!

These photos are from last summer, but if you’re day is filled with half as much joy as Missy’s days are from just being Missy, it will be a good day!

fb web Missy run YH grass in mouth IMG_5751

web Missy run feet off ground young's hill YH IMG_5513

web Missy run chow bag hands feet off ground YH IMG_5719

Annie and Jody Show Off Their Flexibility While Grooming

January 25th, 2015 by Keri

Grooming is a important activity in chimpanzee societies. Not only is it useful to help chimpanzees keep themselves and other members of their group clean and free of dirt and debris, grooming also helps to build friendships and solidify bonds. The activity can also be used as a form of reconciliation after a conflict. Sometimes the chimps spend their time attending to themselves, as was the case with Jody and Annie in the following photos and video.

Annie and Jody displayed their flexibility and similar grooming techniques while sitting next to each other on one of the ledges in the Front Rooms.







Forages and Serving – Variety is the Spice of Life

January 24th, 2015 by Diana

Today I have for you a video of the chimpanzees enjoying food. Now, we all know that Burrito is pretty irresistible, especially when he’s excited about food (see exhibits A and B photos below):

Burrito with chow in mouth

Burrito with chow in mouth


But I think my favorite part of the video is Jamie’s look when she’s enjoying the last bit of smoothie from a dixie cup. See for yourself:

Running around the hill

January 23rd, 2015 by J.B.

It’s cold and foggy here in Cle Elum, but that didn’t stop Missy, Jamie, and volunteer Becca from going on a few walks this morning.


Jamie likes to walk slowly and steadily, while Missy tends to run full speed until she catches up. Then she waits for Jamie and Becca to get ahead so she can run and catch up again.


But there’s something about the last downhill stretch that gets everybody running…even Jamie.



Missy is smooth and graceful when she’s running, while Jamie lumbers along awkwardly.


In fact, I sometimes worry that she’ll just run out of control with her head down until she crashes into the fence at the bottom of the hill.


But she always manages to stop.


And then it’s time to go around again.


Happy Birthday Donna and Doreen!

January 23rd, 2015 by Katelyn

Donna and Doreen Hughes are long-time friends of all the primates here at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, especially their pal, Foxie, with whom they share a special love of trolls. They are twin sisters living the life in their beloved Big Apple and today is their birthday! Being the kind and compassionate souls they are, they chose to celebrate by sponsoring a day of sanctuary for the chimpanzees and shared this message:

“We’d love to celebrate our birthday by sponsoring today! We love Foxie and all of the chimps. What gift could be more meaningful than to help the Great Apes? We hope the 23rd of January is a wonderful day for the chimps, and every day this year! We hope to visit the sanctuary in 2015! Love from NYC!”

Donna and Doreen, thank you for all you do to support great apes everywhere. We are so lucky to have you as part of our chimpanzee family. We hope you have a beautiful day and that all the love, joy, and kindness you send out into the world comes back to you tenfold! Happy Birthday!! (Maybe try some back-flips in Central Park, Foxie-style! Or at least give your trolls a good toss about!).

Two of Donna and Doreen’s kindred spirits, Foxie and troll:

web Foxie troll doll cute face playroom IMG_0103

web Foxie throw blue troll doll in air about to catch playroom IMG_0100