Archive for January, 2012

Happy Birthday, Meg Lunnum!

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Today is Meg Lunnum’s birthday, and she has chosen to celebrate it by sponsoring today for the chimpanzees.  This isn’t Meg’s only act of generosity – she’s been supporting the sanctuary since shortly after the chimps arrived, and she’s currently sponsoring Negra’s care monthly through our Chimpanzee Pal program.  Thanks so much to Meg and to all of you who give so generously so we can give the chimps the life they deserve.

Have a spectacular birthday, Meg (from Negra and all of us)!

Kickin’ and Clickin’ Country-Western Dance

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Yesterday, Jackie and I put out a party with “Texas in a box” sent from Candy C. She also sent a DVD with line dancing for us to show the chimps. We thought Negra would like to see the dancing, so Jackie went to set up the TV so they could watch from the front rooms. We had come technical difficulties so instead decided to just do a video search on my iPad and show the videos to the chimps that way! Negra, Jamie, Foxie, and Burrito all showed interest. Jamie especially liked the boots the dancers were wearing. Thanks again Candy for sending us fun enrichment!

Chimps “messin’ with Texas”

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

We have the greatest supporters! Thanks, Candy!!

Speaking of Jamie’s intelligence…

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Jamie must have sensed that I was telling everyone how smart she is. Just as I was finishing the previous blog post, Elizabeth alerted me to this little project that Jamie was working on in the greenhouse.


Friday, January 27th, 2012

Jamie loves to take part in the human activities at the sanctuary. When we do our closing rounds at night, Jamie insists on having her own pen and clipboard so she can take part. When we clean, Jamie will often begin to scrub a part of her enclosure. And when I am building or repairing something, Jamie will sometimes use her plastic tools to make some repairs of her own.

Yesterday, we began collecting samples for routine fecal exams. Jamie watched intently as I scooped up a sample in a special container. I could tell that she wanted to participate, but I couldn’t spare one of the special containers, so I gave her a tongue depressor on my way out the door. Later that day, when Jackie went in to spot clean the enclosure, she found that Jamie had used the tongue depressor to collect her own stool samples…into the head of a troll doll.

I often hear people say that a certain chimpanzee behavior is not a sign of intelligence because they are simply mimicking human behavior. But I’ve noticed that the chimpanzees that mimic human behavior the most are often the best problem solvers and tool users as well. This makes sense when you think about it. Children spend years mimicking the behavior of adults without understanding their goals or intent, but in doing so they gain valuable skills and learn patterns of behavior that will be important to them later in life.

Jamie is certainly capable of solving problems through a flash of insight. Sometimes you can almost see the wheels turning in her head while she runs through the possible solutions to her problem. But those possible solutions are only available to her because she spends so much time observing and mimicking the behavior of humans and other chimpanzees.

So I think that copying should be given the respect it deserves. We’ll see if the laboratory feels the same way when they receive their next stool sample in the head of a troll doll.


Donation Drive Extravaganza!

Friday, January 27th, 2012

donation drive extravaganza flyer

Big thanks to the Seattle Animal Defense League for organizing a Donation Drive Extravaganza for the Animals to benefit Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest as well as Precious Life Animal Sanctuary and Pigs Peace Sanctuary. The drive is underway now and ends February 13th.


Here’s how it works:

Anyone can donate money in the form of checks made out to the sanctuary of your choice, cash brought to the drop-off locations, or through this paypal account.

The drive was also set up to collect wish list items for the sanctuaries (see list below) and there are several convenient drop off locations in the Seattle area (see other list below). If you want to donate something specific for the chimps, be sure to label it “CSNW” or “for the chimps” or something else obvious. You can donate anything from our online wishlist, in addition to the general wish list below that covers all three sanctuaries.

For more information, of if you have any questions, email SADF at

All of this information is also on their Facebook event page. Please spread the news about the drive! RSVP to the event and share with your FB friends.

fresh fruits and vegetables
trash bags
(HE) laundry detergent
soy protein powder
scrub brushes
vegan chewable vitamins
boot and western wear catalogs
boots (of any size)
troll dolls
canned fruit
uncooked pasta
vegetarian dog treats
peanuts (unsalted)
peanut butter
wet and dry cat food (preferably friskies)
cat litter
rabbit pellets (preferably honor brand)
wet cob
rolled oats junior or senior equine feed
orchard grass or alfalfa
dry dog food (preferably pinnacle or nature’s choice)


Pizza Pi Vegan Pizzeria
5500 University Way NE

Wayward Cafe
5253 University Way NE

Araya’s Place
1121 NE 45th St

Chocolate Shoebox
7410 Greenwood Ave North

Mighty O Donuts
2210 N 55th St

Downtown Dog Lounge
420 E Denny Way

Georgetown Liquor Company
5501 Airport Way S

Evergreen Holistic Vet
14711 Fryelands Blvd (Monroe)

Thanks also to the businesses who are serving as drop off locations!

Enriching Negra

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Negra doesn’t hang out with her human friends all too often, so when she’s in the mood to play (or to even just sit next to you), it’s a real treat. Lately, however I think she has been more interactive than usual, both with her human caregivers and with the other chimps. This morning while we were cleaning the playroom, I caught her casually spying on me through a mirror. At first I just greeted her with a head nod and she enthusiastically head nodded back, so I started dancing for her (Negra loves it when her caregivers dance and often bobs her head and moves with us a bit when we do). I think she was definitely enriched.

The Many Nests of Jamie Chimpanzee

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

I was watching Jamie gather blankets and enrichment to make a nest in the playroom this morning and thinking about some of the unique and impressive nests she makes. She has some nesting habits that distinguish her from the other chimpanzees.

She often forms a circle with her blankets and leaves bare floor underneath:

When she’s making a nest near some caging, she likes to weave blankets or sheets in and out of the fencing:

But her favorite spot to nest seems to be at the base of the stairs in the playroom (maybe because it’s a good vantage point for keeping an eye on all of her chimpanzee and human friends). The nests she makes there always include an interesting combination of blankets, sheets, paper, toys, and any other suitable material she can find. She’ll generally walk around gathering her materials, arrange everything in a pleasing fashion, then settle down in the nest and inspect all the enrichment she’s collected.

Meet the humans

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Around here we all rightfully view the chimpanzees as the stars of the show. But behind the scenes there are some amazing and wonderful humans who make every day go smoothly and safely. I’m so proud of our team and all they do for the chimps. You can see by the human faces in these pictures that we love our jobs! But you can also see how we safely interact with the chimpanzees without putting them (or ourselves) at risk. The chimpanzees can reach out and groom our elbows or wrists (as you’ll see with Seana all the way at the end) and they can put their bodies up against the fencing so we can tickle or groom them, but we never cross the barrier of the fence. Their space is their space, period.

Elizabeth and Foxie:

Jackie and Jody:

Diana and Foxie:

JB and Missy:

Me (Sarah) with Burrito:

Ooops… we apparently need more pictures of our newest staff member, Debbie:

And here are just a few of our dedicated volunteer caregivers!

Deb W and Burrito:

Steph P and Jamie:

Seana B and Jamie:

Find us all on Facebook so we can get to know you too!

Slurp, slurp, slurp

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Yesterday Jackie and I set up a great enrichment project for the chimps. We filled buckets with some snow and added a little juice for flavor, and then we put the buckets outside the caging and gave the chimps straws to use as tools. Everyone had their own way of trying to get the most out of the buckets. Eventually all the snow completely melted and the buckets were dry, but we certainly found a way for this project to last longer than just juice in buckets.