After several days of beautiful sunshine, we’re having a gray and rainy afternoon today. Not surprisingly, the chimpanzees are staying warm and dry inside curled up with as many blankets as they can find. Jody has no complaints.
There are a lot of non-profit organizations doing incredible work who have wonderful supporters, but, let’s just collectively acknowledge that Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest supporters are the best.
Without volunteers, donors, and people telling their friends about the sanctuary, we wouldn’t be able to provide a home for chimpanzees. YOU make the chimpanzees happy everyday.
I’m in the midst of preparing for the Hoot! Gala – mailing out tickets, thanking donors, uploading items to our preview site, and getting sponsor ads ready for the Hoot! Passport.
I’m thinking about all of the people who are supporting the event in all these ways, and at the same time I know that there are volunteers all over Seattle and beyond working late nights getting the booths ready, making silent auction boards, picking up donations, inviting their friends to be guests at their tables, and organizing event volunteers. I am blown away by the time, the dedication, the heart, and the money that people put into Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. Thank you all!
And speaking of time, dedication, heart, and money – go check out the Hoot! Gala preview site right now. I just uploaded a big batch of new items this afternoon, and have a few more to add in the next week.
Two that I’m excited about that are not yet on the preview site are a New Mexico getaway that includes a two-night stay at Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza and handmade, palm oil free soaps from the inspirational Brandon Wood of Make a Chimp Smile!
There are some really awesome Getaways (Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Leavenworth, and more); lots of Just for Fun items (a snowboard, an Owl Prowl adventure for 25, and your chance to photograph the chimpanzees with cool equipment and the expertise of professional photographers!), gift certificates to some of the best Restaurants in Seattle; Wine and wine tastings for you and your best friends; small batch distillery Liquor; Jewelry to die for (do people still say that?); and then there’s my favorite category (aside from Give a Hoot!) – Art.
Below are a few art items that are on the preview site. You can probably guess why I chose these. You really should check out all of the Hoot! items currently uploaded.
“Burrito Play” oil painting by Margaret H. Parkinson:
“Missy” graphite drawing by Nancy Lewis:
“Ms. Foxie” handcrafted artisan clay tile by Maggie Rascal Creations:
“Best Friends” photo transfer and acrylic paint on wood by Stephanie Perciful
“A Dream for Apes Mask #18″ by Dominique Jacot
In his first post, Rich Zimmerman introduced us to the plight of free-living orangutans in Indonesia. Here he tells us how his program, Orangutan Outreach, has helped with some of the issues orangutans face and how Apps for Apes helps raise awareness for those efforts.
How has your work with Orangutan Outreach influenced conservation efforts in Indonesia?
Since its inception, Orangutan Outreach has been able to make a notable impact in the ongoing struggle to save the orangutans. Over the past few years we’ve been able to make substantial financial contributions to our strategic partners in the field, including Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS), IAR, Center for Orangutan Protection (COP) and SOCP. These funds go to rescuing, caring for, relocating, rehabilitating, and releasing individual orangutans back to the forest in Borneo and Sumatra. Working with our partners in the field, we’ve helped fund the rescue of individuals who, without our help, would otherwise have perished or been smuggled out of Indonesia by illegal animal traders. Our support has contributed immensely to the success of the BOS Nyaru Menteng orangutan releases. This release program is the first of its kind in history. BOS is literally re-creating a genetically stable population of orangutans in the wild and we are honored to be able to help them.
In addition to the work on the ground, Orangutan Outreach does a lot of online advocacy on behalf of the orangutans via our website, and our social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. We’ve been able to bring people together from all over and create hubs of support among our fans and followers.
Rich helping to educate the public about the plight of orangutans. Photo © Orangutan Outreach.
Tell us a little bit about the Apps for Apes program and how this helps both captive and wild orangutans.
Apps for Apes was started a few years ago as a way to provide enrichment to orangutans in zoos and sanctuaries—and has now expanded to include chimpanzees! Apes are highly intelligent creatures who require mental stimulation to keep from growing bored and depressed. Every ape is a unique individual with his or her own particular likes and dislikes, and the quality of life of apes living in zoos and sanctuaries is highly dependent on the amount and type of enrichment they receive on a daily basis. With the Apps for Apes project, we are providing iPads to ape caregivers in order to provide them with unlimited enrichment opportunities. They have access to music, musical instruments, cognitive games, art, painting, drawing, photos and videos. I should also point out that we do not spend a penny on Apps for Apes. All iPads are donated. NatGeo gave us several dozen last year when they upgraded their field staff!
Apps for Apes has three goals: 1) to provide stimulating enrichment & immediate gratification for the apes using iPads, 2) to raise awareness among zoo visitors of the critical need to protect orangutans in the wild, and 3) to promote the conservation efforts of Orangutan Outreach. For Apps for Apes to be truly successful we need to achieve ALL the goals. It’s wonderful to provide something fun for a captive ape, but we want to take it further. We want the iPad enrichment sessions to become ‘teachable moments’. Whether via live caregiver talks or stories on the news, we have a golden opportunity to get people to think about orangutans—to see them as amazing, intelligent beings who are being brutally killed in the wild—and to help them! That’s our larger goal of Apps for Apes—for the apes in captivity to truly become ambassadors for their cousins in the wild.
Puppe and her son Budi at the Toronto Zoo with their keeper Matthew Berridge. Photos © Tom Pandi for Orangutan Outreach.
What can we do at home to help with conservation efforts?
People should try their best to avoid products that contain palm oil—and spread the word to all their friends. While boycotting all products that contain palm oil is not feasible, one can always make choices in what they buy. Consumers have power. By letting companies know you won’t buy products that contribute to the destruction of orangutan habitat you are making a powerful statement! Hopefully soon—but only with outside pressure from environmental groups—there will be products that only contain palm oil that is certifiably sustainable and that has not led to the deteriorating population of orangutans. Until then, use extreme caution when shopping, and read those labels!
A really fun way for people to get involved with orangutan conservation is by adopting an orangutan on our website. The adoptions are virtual—the orangutans stay at the care center (Believe me… people ask!). Adopting an orangutan is a great way for someone to follow along as their adoptee grows up. Donations are critical to keep the projects going, but spreading awareness is also key. People can’t act if they don’t know what’s happening far away in Borneo and Sumatra. We need people to share our website with their friends, join us on Facebook and spread the word. We have lots of online materials for young people to use in school. We cannot save the orangutans alone—only together can we make a difference!
CSNW was fortunate enough to be included in the Apps for Apes program and very much appreciate the iPad we received. Since then, we also got one from Shari H. so now the chimpanzees have two iPads! Now one person can keep Jamie occupied and someone else can play with the other chimps—perfect! Here’s a video of the chimps with their iPads:
You may remember Diana’s post from last year about the interesting dynamic in the relationship between Jamie and Burrito. As it happens, Missy and Negra have a complicated relationship as well. When it comes to food, Negra is definitely more dominant and Missy will generally let her have whatever she wants, even if it is reluctantly. You might think that this dynamic would affect their friendship, but it doesn’t seem to, at least not in an obvious way. Missy doesn’t appear to hold a grudge against Negra for pulling rank and is just as happy to play with her as with her friend Annie when the opportunity arises.
It is interesting to note that a similar dynamic exists between Annie and Missy but in this case it is Annie that gives up her food at Missy’s request. So, I imagine it’s not just Missy and Negra or Jamie and Burrito that are complicated. Overall chimpanzee social relationships appear to develop much more complexity than a simple dominance hierarchy suggests.
The chimps at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest have over 85,000 square feet of living space. Most of it is outdoors, on a hillside overlooking Cle Elum and the Yakima River.
But the chimps don’t want to be outside all the time – like today, for example. It’s warm outside and the sun is shining, but the wind will almost knock you off your feet. So they have choices. Sometimes they hang out in the playroom.
Other times they seek out some privacy in one of the four smaller “front rooms.”
But the best spot on a day like today seems to be the greenhouse – all the sun and warmth but without the wind.
Of course, nothing short of a hurricane could stop Jamie from her walks around the hill.
As you might imagine, routine is very important for the chimpanzees, especially after spending decades in the uncertain environment of labs. We all feel a little better knowing what to expect from our environment and the other beings in it, especially when someone else might have certain control over a situation that we don’t. One example of the chimpanzees’ routine here at CSNW is how we invite them to move from one area to another so that we can clean their enclosures. After we clean the chimpanzees’ play room in the morning we scatter a treat for them to forage for when they are given access to the room again. The chimps know to expect this and as they see us nearing the end of cleaning they start getting excited and want to see what we’re are going to put out for them. This not only helps us encourage them to move to different areas, but also gives them something to look forward to as well as to encourage their natural foraging behavior. But it’s always the chimpanzees’ choice to leave an area or not and if someone wants to stay where they are, well then, we just wait it out until they are ready to leave the area.
Today we decided to give the chimps a special treat by putting out entire heads of lettuce. For whatever reason, the chimps get pretty excited over lettuce in general and of course, it’s extra exciting to be able to have a whole item to yourself as opposed to pieces (kind of like me and chocolate bars, for example).
Jamie, enjoying her lettuce and mildly tolerating the paparazzi:
Despite it being an exciting forage item, the chimpanzees were all generous with one another and at some point, choosing to share their spoils with each other. In this photo, Jody had just asked Jamie for permission to have this lettuce and you can see her glancing to the side where Jamie is sitting out of frame:
Unfortunately, the light wasn’t cooperating for pictures of Negra but I can tell you that she had so many heads of lettuce that she had to scoot across the floor on her bottom all the way back to her nest because her hands and feet were full! Here is Burrito cautiously reaching toward Negra’s stash which she kindly allowed him to do:
Foxie finds some blueberries:
Annie scooped up her lettuce and headed for the greenhouse. But her plan to avoid the crowd failed and she found herself the center of a lot of food peering. Foxie is in the background here:
Foxie and Jody were very persistent in their attempts to convince Annie to share. But Annie was equally persistent in keeping her lettuce for herself. Even if she had to enjoy it in a rather awkward position (you can see Jody waiting patiently behind her):
Annie was surrounded as Foxie continued to peer from above:
Annie eventually did share her last bites with Jody and Foxie. It was probably all the “peer” pressure (sorry, I couldn’t resist). I didn’t catch any photos of Missy because she was smartly cornered away in the top of the playroom, out of sight. But in the end, everyone was able to enjoy some lettuce, whether they found their own, covertly took it from someone else, or found a friend in an altruistic mood.
One of our missions at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is to advocate for apes everywhere, which is why we developed the program Eyes on Apes. The idea is to have one centralized area for people to learn about issues that apes face both in captivity and in the wild, while providing tools for you to take action.
One thing we just added were some pages on individual trainers in the entertainment industry. This is a really nice resource for people to have when you hear about a chimp in a commercial or movie and are curious what it is like for them with their trainers. Each page lists facts about the trainers, any relevant USDA citations, and links to our action alerts about productions these trainers were involved in.
Please share this site with your friends, and help raise awareness for apes everywhere! You can ask them to sign up for our Take Action list in order to get action alerts and help make a difference for apes everywhere.
Take a look through all the pages—there’s been some makeovers throughout the site, like this informational map showing the current vs. historical population of African apes:
And, since this was a little bit of a wordy post, I thought I’d throw in a picture of Negra from this morning’s breakfast forage on Young’s Hill: