Jody’s Snack Preference

December 21st, 2014 by Keri

Out of the seven chimpanzees here at the sanctuary, Jody is the one most likely to forage for native plants on Young’s Hill, earning her the title of “Jody the Harvester.” Throughout the summer there are a variety of plants to choose from. However, during this time of the year, there really are no green plants growing on the hill other than the bamboo that we have planted. Even though we serve the chimps fresh fruit and vegetables each day, Jody still likes to have a little snack in between meals.

Shortly after we opened the door to Young’s Hill this morning, Jody was quick to check out what it looked like outside. Timing could not have been more perfect. There was a glimmer of sunshine peeking through a miniscule hole in the clouds. And, it wasn’t raining. She went out onto the hill and came back with this piece of bamboo to munch on.





Are Chimpanzees Picky Eaters?

December 20th, 2014 by Diana

People are often curious what foods the chimps like. The Cle Elum Seven as a group are not very picky – not nearly as picky as other chimpanzees I’ve known. The bulk of the food we provide for the chimps is raw (or sometimes baked or otherwise cooked) fresh produce, and almost everyone eats almost everything we serve. There are a couple of exceptions, of course.

Jamie, for example, eats almost everything, but really does not appreciate the skin of carrots, so we peel hers for her. She also will often turn up her nose if there’s raw spinach in the chimps’ morning smoothie, though I discovered the other day that cooked spinach (frozen and then thawed and blended up with some fruit and almond milk) is better than okay in her opinion. Foxie is probably the pickiest, and declines several different vegetables, preferring fruit. Surprisingly, she loves smoothie with either raw or cooked spinach, even though it’s doubtful she would eat spinach on its own.

Strangely (or maybe not so strange for those who agree with their tastes), as a group they don’t seem to care much for zucchini or summer squash, but they love pumpkin and they like spaghetti squash, so we’re always asking each other – do you know if they will eat this squash? This is what happened tonight when Elizabeth and volunteer Tania were getting dinner together. Elizabeth held up a butternut squash and asked if I knew if the chimps liked that variety. I really wasn’t 100% positive, but Negra gave us the answer with her food squeaks:

Negra eating butternut squash

Negra holding squash

It turns out they all loved it. Missy was probably the most excited, but was moving far too fast to get photos. We’ve learned it is always best to give things a try, even if there’s a chance that one of the chimps might not like one of the foods we serve. Sometimes tastes change, and, because we provide as large a variety of produce as possible and always have three or more choices in a given meal, there’s always something for everyone.

Summer in December

December 19th, 2014 by J.B.

We set out a chow forage after cleaning the greenhouse this morning, but for some reason only Burrito went out when I opened the door. That was fine with him.



After breakfast, Missy and Annie sat in the doorway to Young’s Hill, trying to decide if it had warmed up enough yet to go out.



Jody was the first to go out. At first she seemed a little uncomfortable, but as soon as the sun came out she began to relax.




Jamie and Missy immediately set off around the hill.


Annie came out too, clutching her blankets.



Foxie hung out with her troll in her usual spot on the lower platform.


This is downright balmy weather for Central Washington in December and the chimps seemed eager to spend as much time as possible outside.


Everyone but Negra, of course. She took her time finishing her apple from breakfast and then made her way back to bed.


Later in the day, a light mist started to fall, but Missy and Jamie kept at it. We are at walk number six now, and there’s plenty of daylight left. Got to take advantage of this weather while we can.



Saving Dora

December 18th, 2014 by Elizabeth

Foxie has an interesting relationship with her dolls. She almost always carries at least one with her, and we wouldn’t think of putting out the enrichment for the day and not including a handful (or several handfuls) of trolls and Doras. As much as Foxie likes having her dolls with her, she also doesn’t mind being separated from them – temporarily. She’ll toss one to a caregiver, or Jamie will swipe one to entice Foxie into a game of keep-away. But Foxie almost always reaches a point where enough is enough and she wants her “baby” back.

Today a Dora doll was stuck in a toy and Foxie was determined to get it out.

After awhile, Foxie had had enough and grew increasingly upset. With one final pull, she freed Dora, and then screamed at the offending toy for good measure.

Roasted pears on snow, a delicacy

December 17th, 2014 by Debbie

‘Tis the season for roasting and baking foods for the chimpanzees! They’ve had baked sweet potatoes almost everyday this week and they LOVE it! Food squeaks echo throughout the chimp house when they see the caramelized glaze on the potatoes. Yum! We’ve been experimenting with roasting some other foods, too, to mix things up a bit. Beets, carrots, and pears have all been a huge hit.

Today volunteer Sandra and I baked some pears with the plan to put a couple out as a forage after we cleaned the chimpanzees’ playroom. Here’s the before and after shots:



I turned off the oven well before we were done cleaning but the pears were still pretty hot when it was time to set up the forage. So we came up with a nice way to cool them off—use them as a topping on some snow!


Sandra filled bowls up with fresh snow that fell this morning and scattered bits of roasted pear on top. All the chimpanzees huddled around the door as we set up the forage, pant hooting and food squeaking with excitement.

Jamie did not hesitate in grabbing as many bowls as she possibly could. Luckily we scattered many bowls around so everyone got to have a few, but Jamie got the biggest haul. It also helped that she used a box as a collection device. She pulled her box around and added bowls to it as she went through the playroom, as a sort of shopping cart.



Once she had collected everything she could, she sat down to enjoy her snow and roasted pear snack.





Happy Birthday, Janice!

December 17th, 2014 by Katelyn

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Janice Clayton! Today also happens to be Janice’s birthday and she shared that she felt there was no better way to celebrate!

Janice, thank you so much for choosing to give the gift of sanctuary to the chimpanzees on your own special day. Celebrating your life by making a difference in theirs is an incredibly kind thing to do. From all of the primates here at CSNW, thank you! We wish you the happiest of birthdays!!

Here’s Jody enjoying bamboo she harvested herself.  A seemingly simple thing, but look at the joy in her face! Your support makes that possible and we couldn’t be more grateful.


Ebola and Great Ape Conservation

December 16th, 2014 by Debbie

There are many questions about how this year’s Ebola outbreak started, how it spread so quickly, and how to prevent it from spreading further—but what does Ebola have to do with non-human great ape conservation?

It is known that Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever is transmitted by coming into direct contact with bodily fluids of someone infected and showing symptoms of the virus, a cadaver of someone who died from the virus, or the fluids or meat of an infected animal.

Bushmeat is the meat of any non-domesticated animal that is consumed by humans. In Africa, bushmeat is not only consumed locally, but it is exported worldwide. Many bushmeat species are endangered, in which cases the hunting of those species is illegal. Still, these animals are hunted, and their meat is sold on the black market and exported to other countries, including the United States. No one really knows just how many pounds of illegal bushmeat are smuggled into the U.S., because it is believed only a fraction of the imports are confiscated—but estimates range from hundreds of thousands to millions of pounds per year.

While habitat loss is the largest long-term threat to African ape populations, hunting for bushmeat has risen in the last couple of decades as the most significant immediate threat—and could cause species extinction if the practice continues to grow. However, with the emergence of the deadly Ebola virus, more people have begun to tune into the problem. Though research shows that fruit bats serve as hosts to the Ebola virus and are believed to be the direct source of the current outbreak, consumption of infected ape meat has been linked to previous outbreaks since the late 1990s. Primates and other animals can become infected by eating half-eaten fruit that have come in contact with fruit bat saliva, and the virus is passed to humans who eat infected animal bushmeat.

The Ebola virus can also be detrimental to wild ape populations. In 2002, over 5,000 gorillas died from an outbreak. In fact, the threat of imminent Ebola outbreaks (and other pathogens) on already dwindling populations has prompted researchers to propose developing a vaccination for the apes. Before vaccines could be administered to wild apes, however, some researchers feel they would need to be tested on captive apes. As we know, there is a push to end the use of chimpanzees in research altogether, so the topic sparked a debate earlier this year (read more on that here).

The Ebola scare has also left African sanctuaries in a predicament, such as Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone—one of the affected countries.




The travel limitations and general panic about the disease have kept people away from the country, and the lack of outreach opportunity has hit the sanctuary and others like them hard. Additionally, with travel restrictions in the affected countries, it is harder for volunteers to help with the day-to-day work. The sanctuaries have had to hire more local staff, causing their funds to be stretched thin. Recently, the Chimpanzee Conservation Center in Guinea has been impacted by this trouble as well. Thankfully, no apes in sanctuaries have contracted Ebola, and all the caregivers have been taking extra hygiene precautions to make sure everyone stays healthy.

Though the direct threat to great apes from Ebola is reason for concern, it’s possible that the attention on Ebola could have a positive impact on ape conservation and help prevent future outbreaks in human populations. Unlike other pandemics and deadly pathogens, which are able to sustain in human populations long-term, Ebola is a unique virus in that it comes and goes sporadically in humans in the form of destructive outbreaks. So far these outbreaks seem to have originated from human contact with infected wildlife. With effective education in local communities, and efforts to take legal action against logging, prevention of hunting and eating bushmeat can save countless lives—of both human and nonhuman apes.




A Little Adventure on Jamie’s Boots

December 15th, 2014 by Keri

Volunteer caregiver-in-training Liz and I were walking around Young’s Hill with one of Jamie’s favorite boots not long ago. When we rounded the last corner of the hill, on our way back to give Jamie the boot, Liz spotted a patch of mud and decided to stick the sole of the boot in the mud “To put a little more adventure on it.” As soon as we went inside, we headed straight for where Jamie was so that she could have some time inspecting and grooming the boot.

Ever since that day, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. We’ll never really know why it is that Jamie insists that volunteers and staff walk around the outside of the Young’s Hill fence (always wearing or carrying a boot or two), while she patrols from inside the fence. Perhaps it’s because it’s just more fun to have company come along, or maybe she feels that she is “leading” the patrol if there is someone else with her. But, maybe it’s because she wants to have a little piece of “adventure” from the other side of the fence; her bit of freedom from the other side.

Whatever the reason may be, we are always happy to join her on her walks around Young’s Hill. The photos are from Jamie’s third walk around the hill today.




Here is what the boot looked like after the first part of the walk.

This the boot after the entire way around Young’s Hill with plenty of adventure on it.

Jamie just as I was presenting her the muddy boot.



Off-balance or perfect ten?

December 14th, 2014 by Debbie

We’ve had some beautiful, sunny, blue sky days this weekend which is unusual for this time of year, and Jamie is certainly taking advantage of it. Diana and Jamie went on at least six walks yesterday! Missy joined a couple of times, but of course opted to run at full speed while Jamie kept to more of a saunter.



Then Missy decided to sprint toward the log bridge as if it were a vault, and she appeared to lose her a balance a little bit. Or maybe she meant to hurdle herself in that way, and it was actually an intentional landing. So, the question is, did Missy lose her balance or did she totally stick that landing? Let us know what you think in the comments.



This video of Annie and Missy grooming will make your day better

December 13th, 2014 by Diana

Though not rare, I still love watching these quiet and loving moments between Annie and Missy. If you are having a bad or stressful day, this video will make it better: