Projects and Preferences

September 21st, 2014 by Elizabeth

Jamie has a mind that never sleeps. We do our best to keep her occupied and enriched, but sometimes she has to take matters into her own hands. It’s not unusual to find Jamie working on a project of her own making – anything from stuffing socks into a hollow tube, to pouring liquid back and forth from one container to another, to tying knots in scarves. (She even participated in routine fecal sample collection once.)

Interestingly, Jamie often prefers that these activities are done in privacy. As soon as she notices a caregiver watching – or even worse, trying to film or take photos – she stops what she’s doing. This morning I caught her using the wooden blocks in the photo below to hammer the red plastic stick into the floor of the playroom. Even though I knew I was pushing my luck, I grabbed the camera in hopes that I might get a video for the blog, but not surprisingly, the game was over as soon as she spotted me.


Speaking of keeping the chimps enriched, we posted the photo below to our Facebook page this morning and asked everyone to guess whose feet are socked up so stylishly. The answer is Missy! Missy and Jody both love to wear socks (and in fact these particular socks were sent to Jody by her Pal Sandy Nelson), but typically it’s only one at a time. Missy loves to pull on a sock (or two) when she’s feeling a little playful. (If you’re wondering why we’re okay posting photos of Missy wearing socks while we advocate against the use of chimpanzee “performers” wearing clothes in movies and on TV, please visit this page.)


Adventures with Jamie

September 20th, 2014 by Diana

Jamie is never one to shy away from adventure. If you are one of Jamie’s Chimpanzee Pals, you received an email from Katelyn yesterday with an update on some of her summer antics. One notable antic is Jamie’s frequent decision during the summer to stay out on the hill post-dinner, past the time we usually close it up for the night.

All of the staff have been staying late here and there to join Jamie on her post-dinner walks until she decides it’s time to go to bed, which is usually long after the other chimpanzees have bedded (nested?) down for the night.

Because J.B. and I live on the property, we often relieve the other staff at a certain point and take over so they can go home. This is what happened a few days ago. Katelyn had stayed a little over an hour beyond her designated shift, and I came up to the chimp house to watch over things.

Jamie immediately wanted to go on a walk, with me wearing her latest favorite black cowboy boot.

Sometimes Jamie’s walks seem goal-oriented and efficient: patrol the fence line and return to the greenhouse; but her late evening walks tend to be more exploratory, and she meanders off the path of the fence. Such was her mood the other night.

She got to the top of the hill and decided to jump up on one of the log bridges:

Jamie climb log bridge

Jamie mount log bridge


And walk to the end of the log:

Jamie stand end of log


Then sit on the other end:

Jamie sit top of hill on log


And look into the distance:

Jamie look into distance


Do a little self-grooming:

Jamie self groom on log


And sit some more, contentedly (I love a content Jamie!):

Content Jamie


Then, she was ready to continue the patrol around the hill. When we got to the South side of the building, we discovered two of the neighbor’s cattle close by:



Jamie went into “defend the property mode”:

Jamie bipedal display cattle


Which worked quite well:

cow running away


Then it was back to the chimp house, and on to the next adventure, like foraging for lunch today:

Jamie eat sweet potato

It’s still difficult to fathom that this adventuresome, headstrong, curious and extremely intelligent chimpanzee lived for so long the way she did in her previous life as an entertainer and biomedical laboratory research subject, but she certainly knows how to make up for lost time, and we couldn’t be happier to watch her do it.



September 19th, 2014 by J.B.

Some of the best grooming sessions happen in the afternoon, in the “siesta” time between lunch and dinner.

Missy & Annie:




Foxie & Burrito:


Missy & Burrito:





Being Chimpanzees

September 18th, 2014 by Elizabeth

One of our primary goals here at the sanctuary is to allow and encourage the chimpanzees to act like chimpanzees, in as many ways as possible. A big part of being a chimp is being around other chimps – something that many lab chimps are denied. As much as we caregivers love playing, grooming, and just hanging out with our chimp friends (and we’re always there for them if they want our company), we always prefer to see them enjoying the company of other chimps.

Some chimps, like Missy, tend to prefer chimp company over human company, while others, like Burrito, usually seek out humans to play with. So it’s especially rewarding to see a guy like Burrito just be a chimp with other chimps.

Snoozy afternoon

September 17th, 2014 by Katelyn

We are having a warm, overcast end-of-summer day today and while the chimpanzees and humans are loving the perfect temperatures, everyone seems to be feeling on the snoozy side this afternoon. The chimpanzees spent a lot of time out on Young’s Hill today and shortly after everyone finished exploring I went to look in the playroom to see what they were up to. But everyone seemed to be squirreled away in their nests along the catwalks in the playroom, out of camera range.

So I went out to the greenhouse and heard nothing but the breeze rustling the bamboo. But just as I turned to leave, I heard a slight play thump and I looked up on the very top tier and spotted this sweet guy:


With all the ladies resting indoors, Burrito appeared to be enjoying a peaceful napping spot while soaking up the warmth of the sun coming through the top tier of the greenhouse.






Jody’s eyes

September 16th, 2014 by Debbie

Over six and a half years ago, J.B., Diana, Sarah, and Keith all visited the chimpanzees while they were still in the Buckshire lab. J.B. wrote this entry about Jody and how the first thing he noticed about her were her striking eyes. After living at CSNW now for over six years, I think they are even more vibrant now than they ever have been before.




Games with Friends

September 15th, 2014 by Elizabeth

Foxie and caregiver Katelyn played a fun game of slap-the-window today.

It’s a forage kind of day

September 14th, 2014 by Keri

Today we put out a breakfast forage in the Greenhouse and a lunch forage on Young’s Hill.

Annie enjoyed the tangerines, while Burrito pretty much enjoyed every single morsel of food he could find at breakfast.




Jamie loved her tomatoes!

Missy was the first one to find the small sugar pumpkin (part of today’s lunch forage on Young’s Hill) on top of the wooden platform and quickly brought it to the Greenhouse.



Jody was quick to take over Missy’s find. She proceeded to bring the treat into the Playroom to enjoy.


Then it was Negra’s turn.


Jody and Annie were nearby in case Negra decided to share. Here Jody can be seen peering toward Negra.


Chimpanzees: Always Curious

September 13th, 2014 by Diana

It’s important to have priorities in life, and the chimpanzees at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest are good at deciding what is top priority (usually food) and what is a close ranking second, as you’ll see in the video below.

Here’s what the back of the lower mount for the GoPro camera looks like. I caught this photo last week of Annie standing next to it. The steel mount, custom made by J.B., has a hinge and opens up to slip the camera in and then has a padlock to secure it.

Annie looking at GoPro mount

Conflict and Reconciliation

September 12th, 2014 by J.B.

Last week, a squabble broke out during dinner. Since we’re always talking about how we never capture conflicts on video, I decided to sit quietly and record the whole thing on my phone.

I’m always amazed at how much is going on during a fight. Alliances are being forged, tested, and sometimes broken. Old grudges are being dug up and rehashed. Some subordinate chimps are engaged in proxy fights on behalf their superiors, others are playing mediator and trying not to harm the alliances they’ve worked so hard to build, and some, like Burrito, are doing all they can just to stay out of the way. And that’s just the fight – as soon as it’s over, it’s on to reconciliation phase.

It’s easy to miss all of these things amidst all the screaming, so what follows is my attempt at a play-by-play.