For Jody and all the mamas

May 14th, 2017 by Katelyn

The weekend of celebrations continues in the chimp house today as we celebrate not only Mother’s Day, but beloved Jody, on her 42nd honorary birthday!

I was in my gracious neighbor’s magical backyard bright and early this morning, heisting two armfuls of lilacs. Many of the chimps enjoy smelling and eating them and even now, late in the day, the scent of fresh lilac occasionally is wafts through their home.

We started the celebration off with a beautiful breakfast forage of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, watermelon, and baby bananas on a bed of lettuce, strawberry and banana smoothie, and more sparkling cider.

The greenhouse was bright and sunny as we set up the party. Pineapple tops are a favorite of the birthday girl so we hoped Jody would find this pokey treat:

And she did:

Nothing says party like shoving an entire pokey pineapple top in your mouth:

Dora had a gift for someone:

Foxie gazing at Dora while enjoying her fresh lilacs and melting my heart into a big ol’ puddle:

Annie enjoying a party plate:

For Jamie, parties are even (or maybe I should say especially) serious business. She was methodically looking for her favorites and keeping a watchful eye on the three pinatas hanging from the ceiling until she could get to them. Jamie loves a challenge so this was her kind of party:

The lilacs are quite popular with a few of the girls and Annie was doing her best to collect some on the sly while avoiding the eyes of the more dominant Missy and Jamie and she collected quite a few:

Gorgeous Missy enjoying a treat box:

Burrito was a wild man all morning long. Riling up the girls, rattling the caging, displaying throughout the chimp house. Pretty much normal stuff, but with an extra dash of wild today. But he did find time to settle down and enjoy the company of his friends on their special day and even went to Annie’s defense to reassure her when she got yelled at for picking the “wrong” lilac:

Burrito and Foxie:

And then there’s Negra, who ended the celebration by collecting all the lilacs she could and winding up with a beautiful bouquet:

Mother’s Day is a special day at the sanctuary. If you’re new to the blog and just learning about the chimps, we only know that Jody was most likely born in the wild sometime in 1975. We chose this day to celebrate Jody in honor of the nine infants she gave birth to, but who were stolen from her during her time in biomedical research. With the exception of Jamie and Burrito, all of the chimps residing here had children and were denied the right to raise them. So today, with full hearts, we honor each of the chimps, their loss of their own mothers, and their children who lost the opportunity to grow up with their amazing mothers. You can learn more about each of their stories here.

Mother’s Day can feel like a bittersweet celebration here at times. But what I am finding is that with each passing year, as we’re astounded and privileged to witness the strength, healing and resiliency of these amazing beings, the pain of knowing the horror they endured for so long starts to fade into the shadows, eclipsed by the incredible light of each of these special souls. While we will always honor all they’ve been through, it’s really become about celebrating all they’ve overcome as unique individuals, the hope and joy they embrace each day with, and the family you’ve made possible for them to have. I hope with all my heart that they feel the same.

Happy Birthday, beautiful Jody!! We love you so very much!! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there! And I really think that’s all of us in some shape or form. 🙂


29 Responses to “For Jody and all the mamas”

  1. Sharon says:

    how beautiful…what a,special day for the birthday girl and so heartwarming the love and affection you all give to these special chimps….had no idea they loved lilacs…

  2. Jo says:

    Lovely lovely post and thank you so much! Pix are priceless and treasured! They are certainly special people and you all are special people as well and are appreciated by me! Love and hugs to you all.

  3. Barb says:

    What a beautiful post and tribute to all mothers human or animal.

  4. I am inspired – still possible today here in upstate NY to taste fresh lilacs – But of course!

  5. Kathleen says:

    That frist photo reminds me of a still life for a Baroque painting, oh so lush! And this is why I adore your blog posts, one minute I am sighing and placing a hand over my heart and the next I am laughing out loud —Example: photo #4 of the birthday girl and her poky pineapple top! These photos are simply wonderful (especially love my Negra with her bounty of lilacs! Sigh.) Happy to see Jody celebrating with her pineapple top in hand and her brightly colored polkadot treat bags, quite the balancing act. Your write up on Jody and all the chimps is a touching reminder as to why sanctuary is so vital and important for these beautiful beings. Thank you, not just for celebrating with them and caring for them, but for sharing your thoughts, experiences, and deeply heartfelt sentiments with all of us.

    Happy Birthday Jody!! May you always embrace your inner wild flame.

    • Katelyn says:

      Thank you, Kathleen! The chimps are indeed testaments to the importance of sanctuary. I think words never express our gratitude for all of you who make it possible. Jody loved that pineapple top! She ended up turning the entire thing into a lovely pile of wadges to enjoy over the day. 🙂

  6. Holly says:

    Nice Burrito, had to throw in a little extra wild for the girls special day! lol
    Your still adorable, Happy Mom Day girls!!!!!

  7. Arlene and Michael says:

    How beautifully said Katelyn. What a lovely party for these incredible chimps. Happy Birthday Dear Jody. It looks and sounds like it was an amazing Mother’s Day for all. I feel like I can smell those lilacs from here!

  8. DIANE KASTEL says:


  9. Merle says:

    What wonderful pictures and thank you for sending them. Lilacs are my favorite floor also! Happy Birthday Jody and a BIG HUG as well.

  10. Donna Oleksiuk says:

    Such a beautiful post – the words and the photos. Tears came to my eyes when being reminded of how many little babies were snatched from these dear ones. It takes courage for both the chimps and you, their caregivers, to move beyond this horrible past. Thanks to your immense love and respectful care, they are now thriving and seem content and happy. Deeply grateful to you CSNW for your wonderful work. Lots of love to all <3 <3 <3

    • Katelyn says:

      Thank you for your beautiful comment, Donna. I am continuously astounded by the level of courage the chimps display on a daily basis. It’s both humbling and inspiring. Thank you for loving them so. <3

  11. Francoise says:

    I echo all that was said above…. and I was struck also as I read your lovely post and looked at the simply gorgeous photos how, in addition to the obvious enrichment of delicious delicious yummy yummy healthy healthy food, is how the incredible colors, shapes, textures, and smells of the food are on their own valuable enrichment. To have gone from grey, sterile, cold, damp, stinky cages in which terrible things happened, to a warm, sunlit, green environment with blankets, toys, books, and such gorgeous food is just beyond me… no one can ignore the incredibly beautiful lives they now have, with all its ups and downs, including a sometimes annoying but very lovable and loving Burrito. Just in the 18 months or so that I have followed the blog, I have seen amazing changes and growth! I can’t imagine how profound it has been for all of you at CSNW. THANK YOU!!

    • Carla René says:

      Hello, Francoise,

      *Very* well said!

      I, too, was taken with this idea.

      Katelyn, as primatologists there working with the chimps every day, did Diana and Jeeb have to think about easing them into all of this overwhelming enrichment? Was there a very real danger of sending them into some kind of shock from all of the sensory stimulation they now had, after having absolutely nothing for so much of their lives?


      • Katelyn says:

        Hi Carla,
        When the chimps arrived we were a fledgling sanctuary with very limited resources so the chimps’ exposure to enrichment, space and stimulation has been a natural progression that has grown along with our resources. That said, something of utmost importance and beauty in sanctuaries is that the residents are provided choice and options. So if any of the chimps were to feel overwhelmed by something, they can tear it up, ignore it or choose another option, engaging with things and even spaces in their own time and comfort level.

        • Carla René says:

          Hello, Katelyn,

          Thanks for the response. Timelines built from situational necessity makes complete sense. But that won’t necessarily be the case when you bring in the new residents. Will that same approach be taken with all the new ones you bring in? I mean, will you just leave it and trust that they’ll do exactly what you said–walk away or engage it, whatever they’re feeling?

          This is quite an interesting topic, and I’m extremely grateful for your faithful interaction with all of us, even if it’s just a quick “thanks for loving the chimps” type of reply. If this keeps going, I’ll be over-prepared when I finally enter my first classes for my primatology minor!

          • Katelyn says:

            Yes, Carla, we will just trust they will do what they are comfortable with. Foxie is a good example of this. She is cautious and leery of new things by nature (understandably) and when she first arrived wasn’t interested in touching the enrichment until she discovered her first beloved troll doll. For years, if her dolls wound up inside other enrichment she was very hesitant to touch anything else to retrieve them. Over time she’s gained confidence to check out new things whether it’s enrichment or even structures, whether or not she chooses to engage with them. Even now, after almost nine years, Foxie still doesn’t nest with blankets and prefers to avoid or push them aside because she is more comfortable sleeping on the floor. She’s always had the choice to avoid or engage with things and over time, at her own pace and comfort level, she’s become quite fearless, curious and adventurous. Now a favorite spot of hers is atop one of the highest structures, she’s often the first to defend the chimps’ outdoor enclosure from perceived threats, and she even uses her dolls to swat away snakes and bugs to protect her family.

          • Carla René says:

            Wow! I didn’t know Foxie didn’t use blankets to nest! I think we ALL assumed every one of the chimps used blankets to next.

            Again, thank-you for this. It’s beautiful and amazing.

  12. Nicole Moore says:

    Ok, I can’t stand it! These parties are tooo beautiful and look tooo fun! I am so jealous of the love that is showered on this amazing girls and boy 😉 Gorgeous pictures and fabulous news from HOOT! Can’t wait to be a part of what comes next!

    • Katelyn says:

      I know, haha, when I shop for them I definitely feel guilty for not eating quite as healthy as they do! 😉 Thank you so much for being part of their lives and future!

  13. Karen says:

    OUTSTANDING BLOG AND CONGRATULATIONS ON TNE SUCCESS IF HOOT! The photos in this blog are so beautiful- looks like a photo shoot for a “cooking for chimps “show on food network. They look great, so healthy and happy. To Jody and all mother’s, humans and chimps, this is a day of celebration of birth and joy. It is also a day to toast you all at CSNW for the awesome job you do for the chimps and for the future of the sanctuary!! Thanks for sharing every step of the way with so many of us who are chimp lovers. Especially of the Seven!

    • Katelyn says:

      Thank you so much, Karen! We’re so thrilled and grateful for all of you amazing chimp lovers who are a part of our family. I love Mother’s Day/Jody’s birthday – it is such a beautiful day of celebration here.

  14. Kelli says:

    Thank you for the photos – absolutely gorgeous! Lovely to see what a special day it was for them.

    • Katelyn says:

      Thank you, Kelli! It really was a beautiful day and we so appreciate you following the chimps’ lives. 🙂

  15. Chris says:

    Dear Katelyn,

    I’m very late in joining the conversation here but first of all…it is a beautiful post with beautiful photos to match. Thank-you again for another wonderful glimpse into their lives…I know that the sanctuary knows of the whereabouts of some of the chimp’s I believe I read long ago that Missy has two? that are still not in sanctuary…If that day ever comes when they are all released, would it be possible that CSNW would be first in line to welcome those chimps because they are the offspring of your girls? What is the protocol, procedure, etc. to ever welcoming new chimps to CSNW? What ever the process would be, I would hope that they could all be placed here…because, for one thing, I don’t think there is a better more beautiful, nurturing, loving sanctuary in the world than CSNW!

    • Katelyn says:

      Hi Chris, thank you for thinking of the girls’ children and for your beautiful thoughts. Thankfully, of their surviving children, Missy, Foxie, Annie, Jody and Negra all have sons and daughters residing in sanctuaries now. Jody has two sons and Annie has a daughter who we do not have information on the history or whereabouts of. And I believe both Foxie and Negra have daughters who are awaiting their move to a sanctuary as space becomes available; however, they would go to Chimp Haven, the only sanctuary contracted to take federally “owned” chimpanzees. Jody’s son, Levi, recently made his way there, thankfully! In regard to your question about integrating new chimps, it depends on several factors such as individual needs, age, and personality. Typically, a chimpanzee is introduced to another who is deemed a possible good fit and are usually given protected access to one another (through caging, for example) initially to see how things go before being released into a space together. If that goes well, additional introductions can be made prior to the new individual joining an entire group. We plan to have colleague(s) with additional experience in chimp socialization and group integration come out and help with introductions when the time comes. 🙂

  16. Peggy says:

    What a beautiful post and wonderful pictures. My heart aches with love! You are all so special and I am so happy that you take such good, loving care with them and have such good humor as well.
    Thank you!