Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

A moment to celebrate

Friday, September 4th, 2015

In ten days, all invasive research on chimpanzees in the United States will cease. Let that sink in for a minute.

Burrito hugging Foxie

In response to a petition by a coalition of animal welfare groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is elevating the status of all chimpanzees to endangered, thereby granting them a greater level of protection. Beginning on September 14th, any activity that causes harm to chimpanzees will require a permit, and permits will only be issued for research that benefits wild chimpanzees or conservation efforts. According to the Humane Society of the United States, the effective deadline for obtaining a permit was today, due to public notice requirements. And as of today, no permits have been issued.

It’s hard to overstate how important this is. For nearly a hundred years, chimpanzees have suffered and died in our pursuit of scientific and medical advancements. Later this month, all invasive research on chimpanzees will, at least for a moment, come to an end. Whether any permits will be requested in the future is uncertain, but this much is clear: the era of widespread chimpanzee research in the United States is over. And that’s worth celebrating.

web_missy annie open mouth kiss

Now we need to get these chimpanzees into sanctuaries. We told you at the beginning of this year about our plans for the future of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, and we’re excited to report that, thanks to your generosity, we are ahead of schedule. We’re looking forward to sharing our vision for expanding the sanctuary as it develops and working with you to see it to fruition.

At CSNW, these seven chimpanzees have found a home where they are loved and respected and supported by people around the world. But inside every laboratory, there is a Missy longing to run free, an Annie aching for companionship, a Jody yearning for comfort, a Foxie wishing for someone to play with, a Burrito dreaming of a good meal, a Jamie desperate for a sense of control, and a Negra who wants nothing more than to bask in the sun. They all deserve a life in sanctuary. We, as a community, will make that happen.

Today is for Missy and the “Wagmanagerie”!

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

There is so much to celebrate today and we’re so fortunate to have had two people sponsor this day of sanctuary! Our first sponsor, Martin Hollander, sponsored today in honor of his chimpanzee pal, Missy, on her birthday, as well as his human pals, Bruce and Deb Wagman, and their animal family, all lovingly referred to as “the Wagmanagerie.”

Bruce and Deb volunteer countless hours in countless ways to ensure the well-being and life long care of the chimpanzees. They are compassionate and generous beings who advocate tirelessly to improve the lives of so many animals. We are honored to have them as part of our chimpanzee family. Deb and Bruce, we love you guys and hope today is full of love, comfort and joy for you.

Deb and her buddy, Burrito:

web_burrito and deb play in tunnel IMG_0103

And we also celebrate beloved Missy as she turns 40 years young today! Missy is one of those amazing people who despite everything she has suffered, lost and endured, has opened the door to her life in sanctuary and run toward it. Figuratively and literally. She seems to embrace every minute of her days whether she is running across Young’s Hill or through the chimp house with utter joy and abandon, chasing her best friend, Annie, foraging for wild greens, racing her caregivers to the garden window to ask for tomatoes, or backing up her chimpanzee family without hesitation. She is such a special chimpanzee woman. We love you Missy! Happy Birthday!!


Martin, thank you so much for sponsoring such a special day and for all that you do for Missy and her family!

Check back shortly to learn about our second sponsor for the day!

Chimpanzees and insect eating

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

When I started to write this, J.B. was leading a Summer Visit tour:

JB giving presentation

I’d be willing to bet that one of the things he explained is what we put in the termite mound / treat rock on Young’s Hill. Generally, what we say is that the termite mound mimics ant hills or termite mounds that chimpanzees encounter in the wild, and we provide the chimpanzees with tools to access the goodies inside. It’s great enrichment because it involves tool use and problem solving, and it taps into natural chimpanzee behavior.

The difference, we explain, is that chimpanzees in captivity do not appreciate termites and ants! They react to “bugs” the same way most industrialized human cultures do – as a nuisance, but definitely not as a source for food. And that is why, instead of insects, we put things like mashed up bananas and/or peanut butter in the mound for the chimpanzees to fish out.

The chimpanzees, however, have a way of proving what we say to be wrong. I still don’t think that any of the chimpanzees would appreciate it if we put insects in the pvc tubes that screw into the termite mound, but Jamie and Missy have recently discovered a surprising delicacy – wasp larvae.

This is doubly surprising, given that the chimps certainly do not like wasps, and Jamie has been stung before. Apparently, that risk is worth harvesting this new treat. I wonder how they even discovered that the nests contained something they would like!

Here are a few photos I managed to get of Jamie with a nest that she brought in from Young’s Hill:

Jamie with a wasps' nest


Jamie with a wasps' nest 4


Jamie with a wasps' nest 3


Watching her, it wasn’t entirely clear to me how much of the larvae she was eating, because she seemed to be selectively eating some parts and not others, but she was clearly enjoying the experience:

Jamie with a wasps' nest 2


I haven’t been able to capture any photos of Missy with wasp nests, so you’ll have to take my word that she is very excited when she has a nest, perhaps even more so than Jamie.


Speaking of Missy, it’s her 40th birthday tomorrow!!!

Missy on the hill

Above is a photo of Missy from today as she took a rest before running the perimeter of Young’s Hill.


I defy anyone to call Missy old – she has one of the youngest spirits I’ve known in a chimpanzee. Whether she is searching for wasp nests, running like mad, wrestling with her BFF Annie, or demanding garden tomatoes, she demonstrates, daily, a sense of freedom that she’s found in her second chance at life (read this blog post from 2014 about Missy’s quite literal second chance).

We will be having a big celebration for Missy 40th tomorrow, so be sure to check here on the blog for photos of the party and wish her a happy birthday!

Happy Birthday, Harry Hmura!

Monday, July 6th, 2015

This day of sanctuary was sponsored by Alison Chapot in honor of Harry Hmura’s birthday! Alison has been a long time supporter and friend of the chimpanzees and in celebrating today she shared, “Harry is a dear friend and advocate for apes around the world.”

Harry Hmura is a musician and volunteers his performances to bring awareness to great apes and the sanctuaries that many of these individuals call home and assist with fundraising. Gaining inspiration from Dr. Jane Goodall and all of the great apes, Harry created a unique project called, I AM, I AM, in which he composed and produced an album using great ape vocalizations. “The entire collection of great ape vocal recordings, beginning in 2007, of chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans and gibbons including background environment sounds were recorded at sanctuaries or in natural indigenous habitats around the world.”

“I AM, I AM Project’s mission is sharing half the proceeds for much needed funding with sanctuaries around the world. Sanctuaries are amazing places, innocent beautiful lives, the spirit between humans and great apes. They are home to individuals, each unique from the next with different names and faces rescued from laboratory research, the entertainment and pet industry, the bushmeat trade and loss of habitat. They provide life time care, rehabilitation, companionship, shelter, protection, even sometimes reuniting family members, bringing new meaning and desires to life.”

Alison, thank you so very much for thinking of the chimpanzees and giving them a special day as you honor your friend, Harry, and celebrate his life!

Harry, we are so grateful to you for the work you do to advocate for great apes and sanctuaries worldwide. Thank you for sharing your talent and compassion by bringing awareness of these incredibly special beings to so many others and helping to make a real difference in their lives.

Jamie, always living her life to the fullest:


web jamie play ukulele greenhouse IMG_9637

web Jamie YH view of valley below_MG_4302

The gift of Annie

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

For weeks, no, months, I have had the idea to do “A Day in the Life of…” each of the chimpanzees on the blog. Seems simple enough, right? Well, when you consider each individual chimp, their moods and varying preferences for being photographed (let alone being followed around all day by a photographer), not to mention all the things that can occur during a day working in the chimp house, it’s not as simple as I’d envisioned. Case in point: Annie. Attempting to be systematic in my approach, I’ve wanted to start with her. Beautiful, dear, sweet Annie, who doesn’t always prefer to have her photo taken or is often running at mach speed with her best friend, Missy. So my idea keeps getting pushed to the back burner of the blog.

But I’ve found myself thinking of Annie a lot these past days because her son, Virgil, (who resides at Save the Chimps) celebrated his birthday this week. Annie gave birth to her first son, Tobias, when she was just a child herself, probably a mere 9 years old. In the wild, chimpanzees typically have their first child around the age of 14. But being used in the labs as a “breeder” Annie was forced to begin breeding with many males starting at the age of 7. All for the purpose of supplying more chimpanzees for biomedical testing. Over the next decade, Annie gave birth to six more babies – Abby, Petra, Brooke, Virgil, Mariah and Damien. Two of her children, Virgil and Mariah, who both are so fortunate to be living at Save the Chimps in Florida, are her only living offspring. Tobias (Chimp Haven) and Damian (Save the Chimps) were also fortunate to have made it to sanctuary, but have sadly passed away. Petra, we believe, passed away while still at New Iberia Research Center (NIRC), and sadly, we don’t have much information on Abby or Brooke, but believe they have passed away as well.

Annie was never allowed to care for her babies for more than a few days. In each case she was anesthetized and her children were taken from her and moved to the nursery to be raised by humans until they were, themselves, used as lab subjects. Chimpanzees are highly invested in the raising of their children, much like humans, and under natural circumstances chimpanzee mothers will nurse their infants until they are 4-5 years of age. Their bond is incredibly strong and often remains so throughout their lives.

One of the things I love most about looking at photos of the chimpanzees’ children, are seeing their mothers in them. In the gaze of their eyes, their smiles, the way they hold their body, or even certain mannerisms. To see that even though their histories are tragic, their mothers are there with them in some way. I love seeing beautiful Annie in her son Virgil (photo credited to Save the Chimps):




Annie’s history is devastating. To revisit it, however briefly, takes the breath out of me every time. Annie’s history is not unique to the chimpanzees residing here, nor is it unique to all chimpanzees who have suffered, or suffer still from a life in biomedical research labs, entertainment or the pet industry. But I choose to revisit it today not to feel sorry for her, but to celebrate her. To pay honor the incredible person she is. The internal strength and resilience of spirit that speaks to who she really is. Her ability to find joy in her life each day, to increasingly overcoming the sometimes debilitating anxiety she demonstrated when she first arrived here, and her finding enough comfort in her own skin to enjoy peace and solitude.

Annie’s ability to do these things never excuses what was done to, and stolen from, her. But she is not a victim. She is a strong, intelligent, resilient, sweet, gentle, loving soul. A sweet soul who took another step away from her past this morning and for the first time (with me) flopped on the floor and asked me to tickle her head and ears, laughing all the while. This amazing chimpanzee woman is a gift to us all. It’s a gift for her to be able to share herself with us and for us to be able to witness her healing. But more importantly, it’s a gift for her to live her life in peace, and to be her amazing self, each moment of every day. And none of this would be possible without you.

So in celebration of Annie (as she enjoys a tea party):



And goodnight from Annie, yawning from her nest at the top of the greenhouse. Out there all on her own, her eyes growing heavy as she looks out over Young’s Hill and the summer breeze occasionally ruffles her hair:


Learn more about each of the chimpanzees’ history on our Eyes on Apes page and celebrate the amazing and unique individuals they truly are.

Take Action Tuesday: Help Chimpanzees in Liberia

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Take Action Tuesday banner

Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is part of a coalition of organizations working to help 66 chimpanzees who had been left to starve on a small group of islands in Liberia. Many of them were used for decades in biomedical testing by the New York Blood Center (NYBC), who suddenly pulled their financial support for their care this spring.

Some of the chimpanzees were captured from the wild and many were used for hepatitis testing just like the Cle Elum Seven went through. The NYBC financially benefited from the research they conducted using these chimps. After determining that the chimpanzees would no longer be used in research, they released them onto islands near the laboratory where they rely on a water supply maintained by humans and require food to be brought to them.

Our role is to help spread the word about this issue in order to ensure that the NYBC restores funding. Their actions have been unconscionable, and they have not communicated a plan to save these chimpanzees who are dependent upon humans for their survival. One of the few public statements they have made, via PR representative Victoria O’Neill in this New York Times article is, “We never had any obligation for the care of the chimps, contractual or otherwise.”

In addition to the hardheartedness of this statement, it contradicts previously made public statements by NYBC representatives that acknowledged their responsibility to these chimpanzees and their commitment to their lifetime care.

We, along with coalitions members headed by the Humane Society of the United States, are urging the NYBC to reinstate funding immediately and discuss a long-term solution with animal protection groups and chimpanzee experts.

The New York Blood Center is a nonprofit organization, however they are not hurting for funding. Their CEO makes $1.2 million per year, and they have $450 million in assets with a total income of $407 million last year alone.


There are three ways that you can help TODAY:


1. Sign this petition asking the NYBC to reinstate funding.


2. Donate toward the immediate care of the chimpanzees. These emergency funds will be distributed for food, water, and other supplies as well as to those on the ground working to ensure that these chimpanzees receive the care they deserve.


3. Spread the word far and wide! Social media is a powerful tool – please share this information with all of your networks.


Chimpanzees eating fruit

Photo from May of chimpanzees eating fruit delivered to them by a human caregiver. Photo credit: Agnes Souchal

Fruit on its way to the chimpanzees

Caregivers loading a boat with food to deliver to the chimpanzee islands. Photo credit: Agnes Souchal


Today is for Hope, Love, Home and Sanctuary

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

This day of sanctuary was also sponsored by our good friend, Kathleen Corby, in honor of two very special occasions. Today we celebrate both the honorary 42nd birthday of sanctuary royalty, Queen Negra, and the chimpanzees’ 7th year anniversary in sanctuary! Kathleen shared her beautiful and heartfelt sentiments about today’s celebrations:

“I would like to make two donations for the same day. One donation goes to NEGRA on her 42nd BIRTHDAY. Let me state that I do not have a “favorite” chimpanzee. I admire, respect, and care for each individual equally — quirks and all. But there is something about Negra. Negra instantly captured my heart and I never saw it coming. When I see a photo of Negra or read about her on your blog I often find myself with a catch in the back of my throat, a slight pang in my heart, (sometimes a tear in my eye!) and I experience this fuzzy little feeling. Ah Negra!

This year I want to thank Negra for giving me such pleasure and for teaching me that it is okay to take your time as you embark on a new path. She has shown me that trust, in others and in ourselves, should be afforded the time and nurturing it needs to blossom. Trust is very precious and the offering or earning of trust needs to be handled delicately.

Negra also taught me that you can never count an old gal out! This year she rallied with the best of them, finding new comforts in Foxies trolls and now in her “France Dora” doll. Negra has proven her bravery by venturing out onto Young’s Hill to forage, enjoying time alone in the tall grasses while eating and relaxing in the warm sunshine. I feel so very lucky to be able to witness Negra’s progress into her brave new world and I am grateful that at this stage in her life she has CSNW to allow her these experiences and freedoms. Happy birthday dear Negra. May this entire year unfold before you day by day offering new delights with the passing of time. XOXOXO.

My second donation is in CELEBRATION of the 7 years of SANCTUARY for 7 amazing CHIMPANZEES (and all the care givers, past and current, who make sanctuary happen)! Happy Anniversary to all. I look forward to the future plans of CSNW becoming a reality. On this day I celebrate your passion and compassion. Thank you for educating, inspiring, and connecting us all into one community of people who want to improve the quality of life for chimpanzees. CSNW truly is HOPE. LOVE. HOME. SANCTUARY. Much love always, Kathleen Corby.”

Kathleen, you have embraced each of the chimpanzees and welcomed them into your heart in countless ways. Though it may be from afar, your support and engagement in their lives, and in each step they take toward becoming more fully themselves, is inspiring. We are immensely grateful to have you as part of our chimp family and thank you so much for sponsoring such a special day full of celebration!

Happy Birthday, Negra! We love you!!

Negra close-up

And Happy 7th Anniversary Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy and Negra! May all your days continue to be filled with love, respect, joy and comfort. And may you live each day knowing you are home. We could not possibly love each of you more.








2013 Jamie





Negra building trust and HOOT! tonight

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Today is a big day for me—it is my last day as a staff caregiver at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. I am excited to say that I will be beginning a new position with an animal advocacy group where I can utilize all my skills I’ve learned while developing and working on the Eyes on Apes program and fighting for chimpanzees everywhere. It is not a goodbye for me, though—I will be working from home, which means I will remain very much apart of the lives of the Cle Elum Seven and their human friends, too! Sorry guys, you can’t get rid of me just yet 😉

Though I am not saying goodbye, I have been reflecting a lot lately on my time here at CSNW and the relationships I’ve built with the chimpanzees over the last seven years! I started as a volunteer just a couple months after the chimpanzees arrived and they stole my heart. At the time, I was a graduate student working with signing chimpanzees in Ellensburg (a similar background to many of the CSNW staff) but I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. Since chimpanzee caregiving jobs are few and far between, odds were that I would end up doing something completely unrelated. But as I spent more time at CSNW, seeing the chimpanzees change and grow in sanctuary, my career path became solidified. Words can truly never express how amazing it is to witness the incredible transformation and second chance that sanctuary can provide for chimpanzees.

Negra is a perfect example. She was stolen from her mother and captured from Africa as an infant, and then forced into research to be used in invasive vaccination testing for human diseases. She was also used a breeder, and had her three babies taken from her within days of birth. As if that wasn’t already bad enough, Negra was kept in complete isolation for nearly two years.

Negra has no grounds to trust humans. How could she? After everything that they had done to her—no one is surprised that she isn’t quick to trust someone. Negra’s changes in sanctuary have been very gradual, but we have seen a lot of growth. Negra from day one was (understandably) untrusting and preferred solitude. It became clear after a little while that Negra exhibited symptoms of someone with PTSD and depression. But as the years went by, we saw Negra playing—first with her chimpanzee friends, and then with humans! And she slowly became more trusting as well.

I learned very early on that Negra does not like to be touched. It is likely that she had several negative experiences in the lab, literally being poked and prodded, and so even a gentle knuckle rub would make her scream and run away. After some time, though, she would occasionally ask for a knuckle rub by offering her back to her caregivers. I remember the first time I gave Negra a knuckle rub I was almost in tears, just thinking about how long it took her to realize that she was safe here—and I would not hurt her.

Honestly, I’m not sure that she’s completely convinced of that fact. Just due to the sheer horror of her past, she has not fully moved on from those nightmares. Every once-in-a-while, something will startle Negra and the PTSD symptoms come through. As we started working on positive reinforcement training a little over a month ago, Negra was not thrilled with the sound of the clicker. Something about that sound associated with a bad memory for her, and she did not react very well at first. However, we were able to muffle the clicker sound by placing it in our pockets, and that seemed to work just fine. (And now she is fine without the muffle!) The next step was getting her comfortable with the target—the PVC tubes we use also were uncomfortable for her at first. After a few sessions though, she became more used to it, and realized that getting grapes and chow are totally worth touching that stupid stick. 😉

Ultimately, the positive reinforcement training is something that will be really incredible for Negra. We will be able to work up to a point where we can perform stress-free medical checks. And, if we ever needed to anesthetize her for any reason, we will be able to do so without any trauma, because she will have learned that presenting her shoulder for a poke results in a positive experience.

Since trust doesn’t come easy for her, and since she prefers routine over new things, I was worried that as her primary trainer, I would not be Negra’s biggest fan. However, I completely miscalculated how things would go. Instead of causing a strain on our relationship, training has made our friendship so much stronger. She has impressed me so much with her progress in our sessions, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. What I thought would take months, she has accomplished in just a few weeks. Negra not only confidently touches the target wherever I place it, but she also has started opening her mouth (a useful behavior for dental checks) and she is even presenting her shoulder.

Since this video was taken, she has become more reliable with the behaviors and is very comfortable with me touching her shoulder (even with a stick!)




Now that I’ve exhausted everyone with such a wordy post, here are a bunch of some of my favorite photos of Negra:


web Negra sweet sit next to cabin arms crossed YH IMG_4596

Negra look at pasture OA IMG_3782

web Negra funny lip close up outdoor area IMG_0112








Tonight, we will be celebrating the last seven years of sanctuary at our annual HOOT! gala event in Seattle. We will be sharing stories of the gradual changes and new experiences that sanctuary has given Queen Negra and her chimpanzee family (or should I say the royal subjects under her reign?)

There really is no better send-off for me headed into my new adventure than joining everyone tonight in this celebration of sanctuary. I look forward to seeing you all there!


Take Action Tuesday: Speak up for Eli chimpanzee

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

EOA take action tuesday

A few weeks ago, we alerted you to a new Comedy Central show called Big Time in Hollywood, FL, with reported footage of a chimpanzee in several scenes. We know now that chimpanzee is Eli, who lives at a training facility called Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife.

One of the actors from the show, Lenny Jacobson, identified Eli in an interview where he talked about the experience filming with a chimpanzee. He mentioned that the trainer on set was missing a finger from a chimpanzee bite—which isn’t shocking given the true nature of chimpanzees. Chimpanzees are very strong, and once they become too hard to manage, trainers will discard them at roadside zoos or pseudo-sanctuaries.


Eli’s trainer has a history of dumping former nonhuman ape actors at very decrepit facilities, including Walter, who was found kept in a dark, barren, concrete pit filled with garbage at a roadside zoo. Eli’s trainers also have repeatedly failed to meet minimal animal welfare standards. (

There’s still time to act—the episodes with Eli’s scenes have not aired yet. Please send a polite letter to the producers and to Lenny Jacobson letting them know that chimpanzees should not be used in entertainment. Not only are there numerous welfare concerns, but seeing chimpanzees dressed up in clothing and in physical contact with humans perpetuates the idea that they can be treated as pets.

Your letters do work! Another alert we sent out last month regarding a McDonald’s France commercial with Suzy (who lives with the same trainer as Eli) was pulled after they received feedback from Eyes on Apes supporters and other advocacy groups. Great victory! We hope to see Big Time in Hollywood, FL make the same progressive decision.

We’ve set up a sample letter which you can customize as you wish (click here). You may also post on the show’s Facebook page.

Take Action Tuesday! Chimpanzee in new Comedy Central show

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

EOA take action tuesday

Tomorrow night, March 25, Comedy Central is planning to air a new TV show called Big Time in Hollywood, FL. The show’s previews contain footage of a chimpanzee in several scenes.

The show was produced by Ben Stiller, who we hope will respond favorably to your feedback — but please hurry! The show premieres tomorrow and we would like to encourage the production to make sure the chimpanzee scenes are not included in the premiere. Not only are there numerous welfare concerns, but seeing chimpanzees dressed up in clothing and in physical contact with humans perpetuates the idea that they can be treated as pets.



Recently, A&E canceled the show Wild Transport after receiving feedback from Eyes on Apes and other advocacy groups about the use of chimpanzees in their show. We urge you to encourage Ben Stiller and Comedy Central to make the same progressive decision for Big Time In Hollywood, FL! Send him a letter (c/o his publicist), and let him know that chimpanzees should not be used in entertainment. We’ve set up a sample letter below which you can customize as you wish. You may also post on the show’s Facebook page.