On The 2nd Day of Thanks

November 22nd, 2014 by Diana

Yesterday, J.B. introduced you to our Seven Days of Thanks by posting about the dedicated, full-of-heart staff caregivers that give so much every day to the chimpanzees.

Today, I would like to shout from the highest mountain a thank you to the founder of the sanctuary, Keith LaChappelle, all past board members, and our current board of directors.

There would certainly be no Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest without the vision, foresight, commitment, and determination that Keith and the founding board harnessed to start this organization from scratch – taking it from an idea to help chimpanzees in need to a physical sanctuary that has cared for seven of the greatest primates I know for the last six and a half years.


J.B. and Keith during construction of the chimpanzees first outdoor area (what is now the greenhouse):

Keith and J.B.


Negra and Keith:

Keith and Negra


Keith and his friend Nick, helping with the sprinkler system installation this summer:

Keith and Nick


There are a lot of people who have the desire to start a sanctuary, but only a fraction of them see their dream become a reality. Starting a sanctuary is not easy in any respect, and it takes a profound amount of work in so many disparate areas to be successful.

Keith officially founded Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in 2003 by bringing together people with varied expertise and the shared desire to make a difference and personally purchasing the sanctuary property to lease to the organization. Ground breaking for the sanctuary began soon after, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the future inhabitants, the seven chimpanzees we all love so much now, were identified.

There have been many incredible people involved in the important work of leading the strategy of the organization as members of the board of directors over the last eleven years, making critical and sometimes difficult decisions. Board members are often the unseen and unsung heroes of nonprofits, carrying the huge responsibility of the organization’s health and vision.

We recently had our annual board retreat, which renewed my admiration for our current and past board members. Having a team of people focused on the same mission, with the same goals for the future, is essential and also inspiring.

board annual meeting

Thanks to our retreat facilitator Susan Howlett for the above photo that looks staged – we really were all concentrating that hard!


The best way to show the impact of the work of Keith and all board members who have carried the organization from it’s idea phase to today is to show how far we’ve come.

Below are a few shots of the different phases of the sanctuary over the years:


greenhouse framing

greenhouse construction

Missy chase Foxie

raceway to young's hill construction

young's hill construction platforms

chimps on platforms

mobile clinic




And here is the very first photo that I put on our website after the chimpanzees arrived on June 13, 2008 – a photo of  Negra:

negra day one


Negra in the same spot this morning:

Negra room four 5

Negra room four 3

Negra room four 2

Negra room four 1

Negra room four 4

These photos of Negra reminded me to let you all know that sculptures of Negra via artist Jason Shanaman are available as part of our eight ways to celebrate the holidays! Check out Holiday Central for more info.


9 Responses to “On The 2nd Day of Thanks”

  1. Dalyce Kowalski says:

    She’s beautiful – hard to believe it’s the same girl. Well done all of you!

  2. Jackie says:

    What a wonderful group of people! Great pictures of the lovely Negra.

  3. vicki manor says:

    Wonderful Pics of Negra! I am happy to see how far she has COME!! and how well she has adjusted to her life now.

  4. Lorraine says:

    Negra’s transformation is unbelievable, she looked so sickly before…. Thanks to everyone who has helped.

  5. Meg Konturas says:

    Look how beautiful & peaceful she is!!

  6. Humphrey says:

    I love you Negra.

  7. Rita Stevenson says:

    I love Negra so much, <3

  8. Kathleen says:

    I give Thanks to Keith LaChappelle. You are AMAZING.

    I love these “Days of Thanks” posts, they are so informative and interesting. Nice to put faces to everyone too. But the photos of Negra are the best! Negra has such a sweet face and she is just beautiful now. Thank you one and all for the handwork and energy that went into creating CSNW and thank you for rescuing these 7 special creatures.

  9. Karen and Don says:

    This one brought us to tears. Thank goodness for Google searches. Without Google, we would have not discovered CSNW. It was so exciting because the chimps had just arrived. To see the development of the sanctuary and of course Negra looking so healthy and free, is extraordinary. It is easy to forget all of the hard work and creativity when you look at the finished product each day. This blog is terrific. These days of thanks posts are great.