Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

Tiny chimp, big world

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

We tend to equate mothers with maternity. But whether or not we find ourselves in the position of mothering children, I believe we are all mothers in some form, at some point. Maybe it’s mothering our animal friends, loved ones and family, ourselves, our plants, or even a creative project we’ve put our hearts into. It’s that innate sense we have to nurture, protect and care for someone or something we hold dear, or sometimes just a compassion and empathy that comes from witnessing a fellow being just trying to get through life the same as we are.

If you’re new to the blog or the chimps’ histories you may not be aware that Annie, Missy, Negra, Jody and Foxie were all used as “breeders” during their time in biomedical research. Each of them was forced to have child after child only to have their babies stolen from them shortly after birth, destined to a future as horrid as their parents. (To our knowledge Jamie has never had any children). You can learn more about the chimps’ histories on our Eyes on Apes page.

Foxie is mother to four children. Two daughters, Angie (who thankfully resides at Save the Chimps in Florida, and Kelsey (who resides at Alamogordo Primate Facility), and a rare set of twin sons, David and Steve (who are sadly both deceased now).

Foxie is rarely without at least one of her troll or Dora dolls and appears to have a tendency to carry two at a time. Maybe when Foxie chooses to carry two dolls at a time she can’t decide between favored dolls, perhaps two are the most she can comfortably carry, or it’s another reason I can’t possibly imagine. We can never say with certainty what the chimps are thinking, but I often wonder if it’s indicative of memories of her twins.

After breakfast yesterday the chimps headed out onto Young’s Hill and Foxie and her two Doras du jour headed off to explore on their own.





Walking along the perimeter with Jamie, as we got to the top of the hill I thought I spotted Foxie and the Doras high atop “Jamie’s Tower,” but she wasn’t immediately visible. Then reaching the other side of the structure, I could see her spying through the slats, enjoying her own world.



Gazing at her Dora dolls:


I stood watching Foxie, utterly mesmerized by how tiny she appeared against the backdrop of the stunning views surrounding her sanctuary home. Then for the first time that I’ve seen, Foxie began “phantom” nesting (nesting behavior in the absence of nesting material) with her dolls on the tower. Foxie doesn’t build nests as most chimps do, but we often see her (and sometimes Burrito) engaging in this behavior in a corner of the chimp house during which she claps and clasps her hands together while moving her arms up, across, and down, almost in a figure eight. Similar to movements chimps in the wild make as they bend in and fold branches around them when they create nests, as well as chimps in captivity who use blankets and other nesting material to build their nests. We don’t know a lot about this behavior, but as far as we know it’s only been observed in captive chimps and is not commonly seen.



We can’t know if any of the chimps would have been good mothers given their unnatural circumstances and the trauma they endured, but chances are had they not been deprived of the right to their natural lives, they would have been.





I’m not sure if Foxie was mothering her dolls or mothering herself through the comfort and joy they provide her, both, or neither. And it doesn’t matter. In whatever form it takes, Foxie is a good mother.


This tiny chimpanzee woman’s world has grown exponentially from what it was for the first 32 years of her life. But her heart and spirit can never be constrained by space.

This is for the activists

Saturday, September 17th, 2016

Last night I was going through some old documents and newspaper articles and reading about the history of chimpanzees being retired to sanctuaries, and, in particular, activists who worked to get chimpanzees out of Buckshire, where the seven chimpanzees living at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest came from.

I will share more details at a later time, but one thing that really struck me was the extremely dedicated people who worked for years to help chimpanzees who they had never even met.

Working at and for a sanctuary can be hard work, but the reward is constant. There is a direct connection between the care that goes into sanctuary work and witnessing happy chimpanzees benefit from your labor. Most people who work in sanctuaries are also advocates, but our priority, as it should be, is to provide the very best life possible for those we care for at the sanctuary.

People who work full-time as activists and animal advocates don’t often have this direct reward. Their work, which often involves endlessly writing complaints and submitting FOIA requests, or working to change legislation, can be arduous. They know that there is wrong being done, and they work to create better outcomes, but it often takes years to see an outcome; all too often nothing comes of their hard work. Then, when there is a happy ending, they move on to the next animal or animals who are suffering.

But their work is precisely what has made the sanctuary life for the Cle Elum Seven, and for other animals in sanctuaries, possible.

Today I would like to publicly thank them and let them know that in my head and heart I thank them each time I think of the Cle Elum Seven chimpanzees, which is pretty much all the time.


Negra foraging for lunch:

Negra foraging


Foxie with Dora and friend:

Foxie with dolls


Jamie and Burrito patrolling together:

Jamie with Burrito


Burrito finishing up the patrol around the hill:

Burrito in the grass


Annie and Missy at the top of Twister:

Annie and Missy top of Twister


Jody in profile:

Jody profile

Only the beginning

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Today, the chimps watched from the greenhouse as heavy rainstorms passed through Cle Elum. Rain is a rare occurrence here in the summer and while it puts a damper on the chimps’ outdoor activities, they seemed to welcome its return as much as we did. They curled up next to one another in cozy nests, lulled by the cool, humid air and the steady drum of rain on the greenhouse roof.



It was a very different reaction than the one we witnessed eight years ago, when the rains finally returned to Central Washington after their usual summer hiatus. Then, the chimps were just settling into their new life here at the sanctuary after living for decades in a windowless basement. As the first drops fell, the chimps rushed to the windows and doors to investigate. When the drizzle turned into a steady rain, the chimps let out deafening alarm calls. Alarm calls? At rain? We were momentarily stumped, until we remembered that the Cle Elum Seven hadn’t seen rain in decades – or for some, in their entire lives.

Days like this remind me of how much things have changed over the last eight years. These seven chimps have completely transformed before our very eyes. And while we watched them recover and grow and eventually thrive in sanctuary, their counterparts still in labs were granted new protections, first by the NIH and then by the Fish and Wildlife Service, effectively ending the era of chimpanzee research both in the United States and around the world.

These changes happened far more rapidly than I ever would have imagined. But while we’ve finally nudged the lines of our circle of moral concern ever-so-slightly to include chimpanzees, we still haven’t let go of the mindset that allowed Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy, and Negra to be locked away in the first place. That is, that when humans are concerned, the ends always justify the means. This was addressed in a powerful Op-Ed in the New York Times today by Dr. John Gluck, a former primate researcher and thoughtful advocate for our primate cousins. We had the pleasure of receiving a visit from John, along with the sanctuary’s good friend Dr. Hope Ferdowsian, earlier this summer. I urge you to read what he has to say, though I should warn you that the article includes two disturbing images.

When the rain subsided this afternoon, the chimps spilled back onto Young’s Hill. Jamie picked up where she left off, patrolling her territory, this time accompanied by Ellie the Elk. Missy ran and swung and climbed everything in sight. Others searched for food left over from the morning’s breakfast forage. And Negra, as you might have guessed, stayed tucked in her nest, dreaming of dinner. These chimps emerged from the darkness of their laboratory lives and found peace in sanctuary. They, and others like them, are now protected because people fought for them.

The 70,000 primates still in labs are counting on us to do the same for them.





Saturday, August 13th, 2016

In her book In the Shadow of Man, Jane Goodall wrote about a chimpanzee named Mike at Gombe who used a clever device to quickly rise in the hierarchy of his group.

Here’s an excerpt from her book, which I found on this webpage:

Mike’s rise to the number one or top-ranking position in the chimpanzee community was both interesting and spectacular. In 1963 Mike had ranked almost bottom in the adult male dominance hierarchy. He had been the last to gain access to bananas, and had been threatened and actually attacked by almost every other adult male. At one time he even had appeared almost bald from losing so many handfuls of hair during aggressive incidents with his fellow apes. One day at camp, all at once Mike calmly walked over to our tent and took hold of an empty kerosene can by the handle. Then he picked up a second can and, walking upright, returned to the place where he had been sitting. Armed with his two cans Mike stared toward the other males. After a few minutes he began to rock from side to side. At first the movement was almost imperceptible, but Hugo and I were watching him closely. Gradually, he rocked more vigorously, his hair slowly began to stand erect, and then, softly at first, he started a series of pant-hoots. As he called, Mike got to his feet and suddenly he was off, charging toward the group of males, hitting the two cans ahead of him. The cans, together with Mike’s crescendo of hooting, made the most appalling racket: no wonder the erstwhile peaceful males rushed out of the way. Mike and his cans vanished down a track, and after a few moments there was silence. Some of the males reassembled and resumed their interrupted grooming session, but the others stood around somewhat apprehensively. After a short interval that low-pitched hooting began again, followed almost immediately by the appearance of the two rackety cans with Mike close behind them. Straight for the other males, he charged, and once more they fled. This time, even before the group could reassemble, Mike set off again; but he made straight for Goliath – and even he hastened out of his way like all the others. Then Mike stopped and sat, all his hair on end, breathing hard. His eyes glared ahead and his lower lip was hanging slightly down so that the pink inside showed brightly and gave him a wild appearance.

Mike’s actions on that day allowed the other chimpanzees, including Goliath, the leader of the group, to see him as a force to be reckoned with – Mike’s use of the cans that made an unfamiliar and very loud, intimidating sound in his display was nothing short of brilliant.

Chimpanzees in captivity have access to many man-made objects that make impressive sounds, and they too demonstrate forethought in the objects that they use during displaying.

Today, when the chimpanzees were given access to Young’s Hill, their outdoor habitat, for their lunch forage, Burrito headed for the triangular structure that we call Negra’s cabin. The cabin has lexan panels that can be hit and kicked to cause a loud noise in the otherwise quiet of the hill.

I imagine it feels pretty good too:

Burrito banging on cabin

Burrito at cabin

Burrito banging on cabin


This one is blurry, but you can make out Burrito’s open mouth as he was ending his pant-hoot in a scream:

Burrito banging on cabin


The display was a little lost on the other chimps, who just went about their business – they’ve heard that one before.






MIssy on bridge


Jamie and Negra:

Jamie and Negra



Jody with carrots


I didn’t get a photo of Annie – she was very efficient with her foraging and quickly returned to the cooler environment of the greenhouse.


Humans have their own ways of “displaying,” but sometimes I wonder if it would be helpful if we periodically displayed in the same way that chimps do. Perhaps you can try it this weekend – find something that makes a lot of noise, bang or kick it like you mean it, and let out a tremendous yell. Maybe you won’t raise in the ranks of the hierarchy among your friends, but I imagine you’ll feel a sense of released tension afterwards.


Happy Anniversary, Chris and Victoria!

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Chris and Victoria Jensen as their anniversary gift to one another! Chris shared this message about today:

“My lovely wife Victoria and I have always loved animals. We currently have 2 Dachshunds, Sally and a rescue named Stitch. We decided to stop getting each other presents, and give to the causes we believe in. We really appreciate the work you do, giving the chimps back their lives must be very rewarding. The animals of the world need our help, we can’t help them all so we do what we can.”

Chris and Victoria, thank you so much for celebrating your special day by making a difference in the chimps’ lives! What an inspiring way to honor your lives together. Thank you for all you do for our fellow animals and we are so happy to celebrate with you! Happy Anniversary from all of us at Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW and we hope you, Sally and Stitch have a day filled with the love of family, comfort and home that you help provide the chimps with!

Best friends, Annie and Missy:

Missy and Annie with prickly lettuce

missy annie wrestle on beam

web Annie Missy wrestle play playface YH  IMG_4435

Missy chase Annie

Annie groom Missy in greenhouse

What’s in a Nest?

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

An intriguing article is making the rounds about a primatologist named Koichiro Zamma who has developed a bed, called the humankind evolution bed, that is based on how chimpanzees construct their own beds in the forests. Apparently he tried out a chimpanzee-constructed nest  while tracking chimpanzees in the wild and found it to be very comfortable, waking up quite refreshed after his night of nesting.

A prototype of his invention is currently on display at Kyoto University Museum in Japan. Articles say this about the bed: “The mattress features a depression in the centre to replicate the natural dip in a chimp’s treetop bed and has a raised periphery for the head, legs and arms. It is supported by a frame made from woven paper string for maximum breathability, and eight curved legs that are designed to allow the bed to rock almost imperceptibly.”

humankind evolution bed

Megumi Kaji of the Research Association of Sleep and Society takes a nap on the humankind evolution bed. Photograph: Koichiro Zamma


As we’ve written in the past, chimpanzees in captivity make similar constructions for their nests as their free-living counterparts, building up walls of material (blankets, straw, paper, etc), and laying in the middle.

Jody is a master nest-maker:


Missy makes a pretty mean nest too. This was one of my favorite photos from the early days of the sanctuary:

Missy in tire nest

In fact, these two were featured in this tutorial-style blog post about how to nest.

Here are some more photos of nesting from the Cle Elum Seven:

Jamie's paper nest

Missy constructed nest

Missy sleeping in a big nest

Negra nesting


I have to admit that I wonder if perhaps Zamma’s restful night of sleep was due to being particularly exhausted after a day of following chimpanzees around the forest, but I remain intrigued.

What do you think – are chimpanzees on to something that we should be paying attention to? Should we ditch our flat mattresses? Would you want a humankind evolution bed?


FOXIE for the 2nd Day of HOOT! & Wild Chimpanzees with Doll Rocks

Monday, April 25th, 2016

We were all so touched by the incredible Sponsor-a-Day posted from Megan and her husband earlier today in memory of Baby H.

So, it seems appropriate to make today about celebrating Foxie. A video came up in my news feed on Facebook that is also Foxie-related. It is a short interview with Dr. Richard Wrangham and a fascinating look at juvenile chimpanzees in the wild who seem to be treating rocks as dolls.

Here’s a link to the video:

Does this seem like a doll-loving chimpanzee you know?




Because we are counting down to HOOT!, I’m sharing this image that will be one of just seven exclusive metal prints that can be bid on during the Happy Hour reception at the event on Saturday (minus the HOOT! logo):

Foxie image

Wondering what else will be happening during the Happy Hour? So much! Each guest will receive two drink tickets good for beer, wine, or two custom cocktails (delicious non-alcoholic punch is also available). And everyone can give with their hearts at the Hope, Love, and Home stations staffed by the best friends of the Cle Elum Seven – the sanctuary staff. Guests can ask questions, learn more about the chimps, and contribute directly to the area of care that speaks to them the most while earning a heart to personalize and add to the Heart Board.

Today’s countdown to the celebration of the year, just days away, is thanks to chimpanzee friends Tracy Headley and Poppoff Inc who are Happy Hour sponsors for HOOT!


Poppoff Logo


I am getting so very excited about the event this year, I might just do some pirouettes and spinning today in honor of Foxie.

Take Action Tuesday: Tell Geico to stick to the gecko

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Take Action Tuesday banner


Go to the Geico Action Alert now.


We are faced with constant reminders that many chimpanzees out there do not have the happy life that the chimpanzees at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest currently have.

It took many years and many advocates fighting for the CSNW chimpanzees, and others like them, before they finally made it to a sanctuary. This is why it is so important that we continue to spread information when we know of other chimpanzees being exploited or in dire situations.

Though many strides have been made, the entertainment industry has been, surprisingly, slower to respond to public concern about the use of great apes than the biomedical industry. This clearly needs to change.

You have the opportunity today to help usher that change. A new ad is currently running on television by the insurance company Geico that contains a short clip of a chimpanzee. They have tried to deflect our concerns by saying that the American Humane Association asserted that no animals were harmed on set, but the letter they sent to us with this certification referred to the chimpanzee in the ad as a monkey!

Please take a moment to write to Geico about why chimpanzees do not belong in entertainment (you can personalize the email) and share this action alert far and wide.


Geico no


It really does only take a minute, and it really does make a difference.


Go to the Geico Action Alert now.


These resilient spirits

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Foxie has become quite the celebrity. As Diana mentioned in her blog post several days ago, the story of Foxie’s history, her life in the lab, and her subsequent discovery of her love for troll dolls and Dora the Explorer and has been shared in The Dodo and the Huffington Post. Since then her story continues to travel the globe and has been seen in the Daily Mail, KOMO News, the Berliner Kurier to name a few, and most recently, ABC News. And it seems there’s more to come! We are thrilled to see Foxie’s story being shared and the opportunity for so many people to learn about all that she has overcome since arriving to her sanctuary home.


As the stories relate, and you may be aware, Foxie was used in part as a “breeder” during her time in biomedical research (in addition to being used in hepatitis vaccination research, as were Annie, Burrito, Jamie, Jody, Missy and Negra). Foxie gave birth to four children, two daughters and two sons, a rare set of twins. All of whom were taken from her immediately, or shortly after birth, to continue their own lives being used as research subjects.

It’s hard to imagine such unfathomable loss and suffering. And yet, most of us can relate on some level. I think that is why Foxie’s story touches so many of us. And the fact that she has become so enamored with her beloved trolls and Dora the Explorer only appeals that much more to our hearts. While the dolls of course, will never make up for the loss of Foxie’s children, knowing that she’s found something that makes her heart light up and upon occasion direct her mothering instincts toward is immensely heartwarming.

But something that I hope also comes from this opportunity for more people to learn about Foxie’s story, is the opportunity for more people to learn about other chimpanzees with her history. For as truly special as Foxie and her story are, this is the story of every chimpanzee in biomedical research, and in fact, for every animal in biomedical research. This is the story of animals in the entertainment and pet industries, factory farming, and countless other arenas where animals’ lives, intelligence, emotions, families, communities, and well-being are seen as less valuable than ours.

Every time I see someone’s heart and mind open up when they learn of Foxie’s story, I am given hope that those who feel inclined to do so will seek out more information, ask questions, and consider how they can make a difference in the lives of others by the choices they make in their own. Because I can tell you, no matter how small you might feel what you have to offer is, it can make a huge difference to someone else.

This story is also that of Annie, Missy, Jody and Negra who also had their children stolen from them in the same manner. All of their children have been deprived of being raised and nurtured by their mother, being part of a chimpanzee family in which they learn important social skills and experience family bonding. Annie gave birth to 7 children, Jody gave birth to 9 children, Missy gave birth to 3 children and had one miscarriage, and Negra gave birth three children. And although Jamie and Burrito are not parents to any children we are aware of, they are not exempt from the devastating loss of family.

By this time, you might be thinking, “Katelyn, we don’t want to read all of this heartbreaking stuff!” I get that. But I also invite you to look beyond the painful things toward what you have helped provide these chimpanzees and hopefully, those to come in the future. All around us are examples of how resilient the human spirit is. And thanks to you, we get to see on a daily basis how resilient the chimpanzees’ spirits are when given the space to heal. They inspire me every single day. In short, they are my heroes. I am grateful to my bones that they each finally get the opportunity to find things that make their hearts and souls sing. Whether it’s a cowgirl boot, open spaces to run to one’s hearts content, a best friend, fresh food, a cozy blanket nest, or yes, a troll or Dora doll.  Thanks to you, each one of these very special people is provided with love, care, dignity and family.

Today, after a couple weeks of a seemingly endless wild rumpus of stormy weather, things have lulled and the sun even made an appearance. Annie, Foxie, Jody, and Missy were first onto the hill (yes, even before Jamie!) to stretch their legs and enjoy the fresh air. I watched them for a long time as they moved over the hill together, these chimpanzees who have become family for one another. Each enjoying their own activities, but staying within sight of one another, quick to offer backup or reassurance over perceived threats to their home, in this case, barking pups below and hawks calling out above. (Jamie eventually sauntered right past me and headed off to patrol the perimeter all on her own and Burrito chose to enjoy the greenhouse).

Annie enjoyed a long awaited sit in the sun. I love how relaxed her hands are and my heart melted a little when she sat gazing up at the sky.




Jody (above) and Foxie (below) checked out the entire length of structures together:

web_jody_shaky_bridge_ foxie_below_kd_IMG_6976

Just as Jody was headed back in after her stroll on the hill, she stopped on high alert and ran to back-up Missy from the dreaded dog barking.





Jody and Missy patrolled the perimeter together and once it was certain the threats had been averted, Jody headed back to the warmer greenhouse and Missy continued exploring:


And Negra chose to remain comfy and warm in her nest, knowing all is well:


The traumas we are all inflicted with at some point in life always leave their marks. But so does hope. So does dignity. And so does love.

Take Action: Trunk Monkey Ads

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Take Action Tuesday banner


Today, we’re asking for your help. We’ve reached out to the Suburban Auto Group multiple times over the years about their “Trunk Monkey” ads using chimpanzees who were abused during their years in entertainment.


web_chimp-driving-car-trunk-monkey-no-sign copy     No Trunk Monkey


Instead of listening to our concerns, retiring the old and tired campaign, and coming up with more creative advertising, the car dealership outside of Portland, Oregon keeps bringing the Trunk Monkey ads back.

Please help us in continuing to reach out to them today by learning more and sending a polite email to Erinn Sowle, Suburban Auto Group’s general manager, via this page.

Thank you for speaking out and sharing the action alert with your contacts. Your voice makes a difference!