Thank you, Susan!

September 29th, 2016 by Katelyn

A day of sanctuary for the chimpanzees was also sponsored by Susan Bradshaw today! We are always moved by the compassion each of you show for the chimpanzees. For every day of sanctuary sponsored, every donation made, every item purchased that makes the chimps’ days better and the humans’ days easier to care for them, and for every one who supports the chimps by following them on the blog and social media and shares their lives with others, it all adds up to a LIFE in sanctuary. Seven lives to be specific. And we could not be more grateful to you!

Susan, thank you so much for thinking of the chimpanzees today and making a difference in their lives! We so appreciate your care and generosity! Your support provides Jody and her family with endless joy, comfort, adventure, exciting things to eat and a home full of love to call their own.

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Burrito in the Spotlight

September 29th, 2016 by Elizabeth

I hope these photos of the dashing Mr. B make your day a little brighter. Let us know which is your favorite!

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Happy Birthday, Terre!

September 29th, 2016 by Katelyn

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Sandra Zacek in honor of her daughter, Terre, in celebration of her birthday! Terre is an amazing friend to the chimpanzees and the humans of the sanctuary and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate her today! Sandra shared this message about today:

“I would like to sponsor a day for the chimps as a birthday gift to my daughter, Terre. And thank you Terre for introducing me to the Cle Elum seven. It is my favorite post on Facebook.”

Sandra, thank you so much for sponsoring today in honor of Terre! We are truly touched that you would think of making the lives’ of the chimpanzees better as you celebrate the life of your wonderful daughter. Thank you for being part of our chimp family!

Happiest of birthdays to you, Terre! All of the primates wish you a day of love, comfort, joy and all the things you help ensure the chimpanzees’ lives are full to the brim and overflowing with!

Annie:

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Burrito:

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Foxie:

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Jamie:

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Jody:

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Missy:

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Negra:

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Tiny chimp, big world

September 28th, 2016 by Katelyn

We tend to equate mothers with maternity. But whether or not we find ourselves in the position of mothering children, I believe we are all mothers in some form, at some point. Maybe it’s mothering our animal friends, loved ones and family, ourselves, our plants, or even a creative project we’ve put our hearts into. It’s that innate sense we have to nurture, protect and care for someone or something we hold dear, or sometimes just a compassion and empathy that comes from witnessing a fellow being just trying to get through life the same as we are.

If you’re new to the blog or the chimps’ histories you may not be aware that Annie, Missy, Negra, Jody and Foxie were all used as “breeders” during their time in biomedical research. Each of them was forced to have child after child only to have their babies stolen from them shortly after birth, destined to a future as horrid as their parents. (To our knowledge Jamie has never had any children). You can learn more about the chimps’ histories on our Eyes on Apes page.

Foxie is mother to four children. Two daughters, Angie (who thankfully resides at Save the Chimps in Florida, and Kelsey (who resides at Alamogordo Primate Facility), and a rare set of twin sons, David and Steve (who are sadly both deceased now).

Foxie is rarely without at least one of her troll or Dora dolls and appears to have a tendency to carry two at a time. Maybe when Foxie chooses to carry two dolls at a time she can’t decide between favored dolls, perhaps two are the most she can comfortably carry, or it’s another reason I can’t possibly imagine. We can never say with certainty what the chimps are thinking, but I often wonder if it’s indicative of memories of her twins.

After breakfast yesterday the chimps headed out onto Young’s Hill and Foxie and her two Doras du jour headed off to explore on their own.

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Walking along the perimeter with Jamie, as we got to the top of the hill I thought I spotted Foxie and the Doras high atop “Jamie’s Tower,” but she wasn’t immediately visible. Then reaching the other side of the structure, I could see her spying through the slats, enjoying her own world.

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Gazing at her Dora dolls:

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I stood watching Foxie, utterly mesmerized by how tiny she appeared against the backdrop of the stunning views surrounding her sanctuary home. Then for the first time that I’ve seen, Foxie began “phantom” nesting (nesting behavior in the absence of nesting material) with her dolls on the tower. Foxie doesn’t build nests as most chimps do, but we often see her (and sometimes Burrito) engaging in this behavior in a corner of the chimp house during which she claps and clasps her hands together while moving her arms up, across, and down, almost in a figure eight. Similar to movements chimps in the wild make as they bend in and fold branches around them when they create nests, as well as chimps in captivity who use blankets and other nesting material to build their nests. We don’t know a lot about this behavior, but as far as we know it’s only been observed in captive chimps and is not commonly seen.

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We can’t know if any of the chimps would have been good mothers given their unnatural circumstances and the trauma they endured, but chances are had they not been deprived of the right to their natural lives, they would have been.

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I’m not sure if Foxie was mothering her dolls or mothering herself through the comfort and joy they provide her, both, or neither. And it doesn’t matter. In whatever form it takes, Foxie is a good mother.

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This tiny chimpanzee woman’s world has grown exponentially from what it was for the first 32 years of her life. But her heart and spirit can never be constrained by space.

Brave is brave

September 27th, 2016 by Katelyn

Burrito’s courage might not always present as it does in many male chimpanzees, but I don’t think that makes it any less brave or valid. In fact, for a guy who spent the first 25 years of his life powerless to the whims of humans, living in fear and uncertainty with no respect for his needs or nature, and deprived of the nurturing and modeling that should have come from living with his chimp family, he shows endless courage every day.

It’s taken Burrito awhile to feel comfortable walking the perimeter of Young’s Hill with Jamie and investigating the climbing structures. With each passing year he’s taken further steps outside his comfort zone. When Burrito does decide to put himself out there on the structures, he still seems uncertain of his chimp status and moves very cautiously, hanging onto the fire hose or railings for security, sometimes fear grimacing the whole way, and often looking longingly back toward the safety and comfort of the chimp house. But he still gives it a go.

It’s not uncommon now for him to bring up the rear behind Jamie during our walks, but when she makes her routine stop to climb the Twister and check out the neighborhood, Burrito typically waits patiently below until Jamie says it’s time to move on. So on this occasion my heart swelled to see him decide to climb up the structure behind her.

Brave B:

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Feeling safe for the moment Burrito found a moment to look up at the sky and take in his home from up there, seemingly in awe:

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Our hearts are full of gratitude to you all for giving Burrito, and each of the chimps, the space for their hearts and spirits to soar and be brave.

Taking In The View, Together

September 26th, 2016 by Keri

What could possibly be better than taking in a view like this on such a beautiful fall day?

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…sharing the view with your best friend (Annie on the left, Missy on the right).

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These two chimpanzees are the best of friends. They’re constantly playing together and are often in close proximity to one another. They also build blanket nests side-by-side. It’s no wonder, they would also choose to share some quiet time together.

Negra Unleashed

September 25th, 2016 by Elizabeth

A few days ago was the five year anniversary of the chimpanzees going outside onto Young’s Hill for the first time. For many of the chimps, it was probably the first time they had ever been outside in their lives, and it took some adjustment.

Out of all the chimps at the sanctuary, Negra has probably had the hardest time adjusting. On her first day out, she accidentally touched the electric fence and received a shock. For someone who was already predisposed to feel some anxiety at being outdoors after decades in lab cages, this certainly didn’t help. For several months after that Negra refused to step foot outside. Eventually she decided to try again, but she wouldn’t venture far from the greenhouse, and at the first strange noise or gust of wind, she would run back inside with a fear grimace on her face.

This year has been a turning point for Negra. This spring she started hiking straight up to the top of the two-acre Young’s Hill with no apparent anxiety to enjoy some of the wild greens growing up there. Today we set up a lunch forage on the hill and Negra headed outside with the rest of the group, calm and confident.

Welcome NAPSA!

September 24th, 2016 by Anna

Today was an exciting day! Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest had the honor of hosting some amazing passionate humans of the primate sanctuary community! This past week, the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) held their 2 day conference (this year in Tacoma, Washington). Sanctuary founders, directors, coordinators, caregivers and allies discussed a diverse number of topics such as the founding of primate sanctuaries, visitor policies and their effects, and compassion fatigue.

This morning, many of the conference attendees loaded onto a bus and made the drive to our sanctuary for a visit to the chimpanzees. We aren’t normally set up for larger group tours,so there were a few things that needed to be rearranged first..
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We also set up a lunch tent for the humans to relax in.
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Upon arrival, visitors split into smaller groups so they could eat lunch, get a look at some behind the scenes spaces, walk around Young’s Hill, and view the chimps enjoying multiple lunch forages.

Here, part of the group watches the chimps forage on Young’s Hill.
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Negra and Annie during the forage:
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Foxie and Dora:
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After our visitors left, JB returned an important item to its rightful place next to the barn, and the chimpanzees continued to leisurely forage on this beautiful early fall day.
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Thanks to all our visitors, volunteers, and staff for making today possible! Thanks also to NAPSA for arranging this fantastic 2016 workshop!

Annie:
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We Like What We Like

September 23rd, 2016 by Elizabeth

Jamie spent her childhood living in a human home, and like all chimps who begin their lives in human homes, she quickly grew too strong and unmanageable. Jamie was sold to a research lab when she was about nine years old, and spent the next 22 years in hepatitis vaccine trials and possibly other invasive studies.

Jamie is one of the lucky ones. When she was 31, she was “retired” from research and moved to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. Chimpanzees who have lived with and around humans often pick up human habits and interests – Jamie files her nails, ties knots, and loves (and sometimes wears) boots. Jamie is different from the chimpanzees you see behaving like humans in movies and on TV; those chimps are trained – brutally – to perform and are often duct-taped into their clothes. At the sanctuary, Jamie chooses the objects she likes from the various enrichment items we provide each day and she does what she wants with them: nests with them, plays with them, ignores them, destroys them, or wears them.

A few days ago we had a visitor whose beautiful boots Jamie was clearly obsessed with. In a moment of overwhelming generosity, our visitor left Jamie the boots she came in with and walked out of the sanctuary barefoot. Jamie couldn’t resist giving her new boots a test run.

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Welcoming autumn

September 22nd, 2016 by Katelyn

Last night as the chimps were all curled into their nests for the night, I stood watching the last of the summer sun setting over the sanctuary. My heart beats a little faster during these moments, already pining for the passing beauty of one season, while leaping about in anticipation of the beauty to come.

After eight years in sanctuary, it’s been amazing to observe the chimpanzees beginning to make clear connections between the seasonal changes and favorite things to come. For example, the moment that the snow melted last winter they began running to the windows in anticipation to check their garden each day, seemingly hoping it would sprout up overnight.

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As we welcomed the first day of autumn this morning, I found dear, sweet Annie sitting in front of the barn doors, enjoying the late morning sun and gazing out over the remainder of the chimps’ garden, seemingly lost in thought. I hope it was all the good thoughts:

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Annie sat like this for several moments and at one point the breeze picked up and she just closed her eyes, letting it blow through her hair. And yes, my heart just melted:

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Even Ellie, our wild and sassy neighborhood elk, was dozing in the breeze:

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We’ve written about it before, but Annie is a different person after eight years in her sanctuary home than when she arrived. Having gone through many seasons of her own, it’s actually more probable that there is finally safe space for her true self to emerge, more at ease with the world around her, serene and comfortable in her own skin and able to hold hope and joy for what each day and season brings:

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Happy autumn everyone (or spring, as the hemispheric case may be)!