Archive for the ‘Caregivers’ Category

Crisp days and spooky nights

Monday, October 16th, 2017

We’ve already seen some snow in the surrounding mountains and apparently have a long stretch of rain on the way, but for now the days have been dawning with beautiful blue skies and crisp, frosty mornings. Despite being able to see our breath in the morning air, the chimps have been loving being on Young’s Hill and waiting to warm up in the bright sun:

Peas-in-a-pod, Annie and Missy, climbed up together to enjoy the view in the cold autumn air:

Jody sat for ages in the morning sun then ventured up the hill for a snack to bring back to the top of the greenhouse where she could warm up:

And much to my surprise, when Jamie and I were returning from a walk around the hill, I spotted Negra of all people enjoying the sun and the view despite the cold temperatures:

I think Foxie was just as surprised to spot Negra out on such a brisk morning and decided she and her current favorite doll would check in on Negra:

Double-decker chimps:

In other news, Jamie has been doing something new this year! As a little background, if you’ve been a follower of the blog for very long you are probably aware that Jamie often enjoys late evening strolls with her caregivers. After dinner, after the other chimps have gone to bed, and past the time that her caregivers are supposed to go home for the day. We can’t blame her, evenings at the sanctuary are lovely, peaceful times and during summer a welcome relief from the heat of the day. We’ve adjusted our schedule so that we all rotate to cover PM on call in the evenings and two of us can be with her in the event that she (or anyone else) chooses to stay out past the end of our shift. This is one of many beauties of sanctuary; the chimps get to choose when they want to come in for the night. And it’s really a heartfelt joy and honor to be able to provide such a home for them.

Up until this year, we knew that even if Jamie wanted to stay out late, once it got dark she was ready to come inside. Well, that’s no longer the case! Back in August, and again last night, Jamie decided to brave walking around the hill with us in the pitch dark! The first time Jamie did this she was clearly nervous, but clearly wanted to go so Kelsi and I grabbed the spotlight and scanned the hill for her so she could see everything and know she was safe. It took her awhile to build up her courage, but once she made up her mind we were off! Kelsi held a light for us to see where we were going while I held the spotlight just ahead of Jamie to light her path. At every corner of the perimeter we’d stop and I’d light up the entire path ahead of her to remind her she was safe and then we’d venture on.

It’s phenomenal to me when I think how much courage this took for her to do. Not only is it entirely unnatural for a chimp to be on the ground outside in the dark (let alone one who spent three decades in a small cage in biomedical research), but she had to trust us enough to hold the light for her all the way around and not leave her. But once we made our way safely around she was thrilled, ready to go again! We walked around and around that night, carving a path with the light until 10:30!

So last night Jamie decided she was ready for another brave adventure. In the spirit of spooky, magical autumn nights and the month of Jamie-ween (we celebrate Jamie’s birthday on Halloween) here is Jamie in the pitch dark of the green house last night gesturing for Kelsi and I to put on the cowboy boots and get ready to run around the hill again. To say she was thrilled with the evening is an understatement. You can see the light from the chimp house through the doorway behind her where everyone else was cozy and asleep in their night nests. And what better way to celebrate Jamie’s birthday month and get into the spirit of Jamie-ween than a photo a little reminiscent of the “Blair Chimp Project”:

Harry Potter Day

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

In our continuing effort to come up with new and interesting enrichment for the chimpanzees, we present to you…

Some Days are Just Silly

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

It was all fun and games today at CSNW! This morning I was greeted with breathy pants, grooming (Burrito & Neggie grooming one another), and chimps playing games of chase with each other (Annie, Missy, & Foxie). Jamie made a few of the staff and level 3 volunteers try on boots and after finding the right pair she couldn’t contain her excitement and took off for a game of chase!

Annie: Grooming her leg and secretly watching Burrito play chase

Annie: Later in the day enjoying kale from the garden

Missy: Hanging out in the greenhouse

Jody: Taking it easy and soaking in the warm sun

Foxie: Carrying her dora doll around

Burrito found a sweatband and put it on to play chase. Burrito put it on his head as captured in the photos, but he also put it around his wrists and ran around like crazy!

Burrito: Thinking about wearing the sweatband

Burrito: Putting the sweatband on, but still holding his wooden toys

Burrito: Playing chase

Burrito: Playing chase with volunteer Erin and the sweatband over his face


Garden fresh!

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

We get pretty amazingly fresh produce donations from our supporters! Missy gave today’s lunch a 5 star rating!

Guy Time

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest tends to be female-heavy (as do most animal care professions). Of the seven chimpanzees who live here, only one is male. Of our six-person staff, only one is male. Out of our 36 current chimp house volunteers, seven are male. Out of the 10 volunteers who are trained to play and interact with the chimpanzees, two are male.

Burrito is a friendly and inclusive guy, and when it comes to human play partners, he does not discriminate. That said, he does seem to feel a little outnumbered from time to time. It’s a special treat when one of his guy friends is up for some man time.

Eclipse happenings and shenanigans

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Caring for chimpanzees during an eclipse was something new for us. We’ve been discussing thoughts and plans with our fellow sanctuary colleagues and veterinarians for awhile and understandably, there isn’t a lot of precedence for chimpanzee care (or other animal care) during such events. Though we did come across this interesting report from 1986 in the American Journal of Primatology.

We suspected the chimps probably wouldn’t look directly at the sun, but we decided to err on the side of caution and threw an exciting breakfast forage in the playroom to keep the chimps happy and active during the peak of the eclipse.

While the chimps were enjoying their tropical fruit brunch forage, we humans donned our eclipse shades and headed outside to watch with Ellie. It was a partial eclipse in our area, but incredible to experience nonetheless. Our local wild-ish elk friend, Ellie, couldn’t figure out what we were doing, but seemed happy to join the herd.

The “other” sun, Elizabeth:

J.B. has been waiting his whole life for this moment:

Ellie gave zero indication that anything was occurring other than the humans being odd. The chimps were aware that their routine was slightly different and the humans were running around trying to get things done faster than usual, but outside of that they didn’t appear to notice much. However, Jody and Foxie spent some time looking out the front rooms doors at the increasing shadows and the human shenanigans.


Jamie, as usual, had important matters to attend to:

We hope you all had an opportunity to enjoy this amazing event!

One of those weeks

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

There are some days, maybe even entire weeks, when things go wrong at the sanctuary. Not major things, mind you, but an accumulation of small “fires” that need to be put out. Shelves collapse in the kitchen (spraying juice everywhere), an innocent volunteer takes a pile of feces to the face, blankets block doors from closing off an area for cleaning, minor injuries on the chimps (from a small fight) need special attention, staff or volunteers get sick, and Jamie decides to cap it all off by staying out late on Young’s Hill. Did I mention it’s been really hot and a haze of wildfire smoke from Canada is in the air? This is the kind of week we’ve been having at the sanctuary. I debated on whether or not this was maybe a bit too much information, but I think it’s incredibly important to talk about BOTH fun things like Foxie’s birthday party, AND the less charming things that happen around here. Being a caregiver isn’t comprised of 50% games with Burrito and 50% troll tosses with Foxie after all (although that does sound pretty great).

The upside? We LOVE what we do. Through all the fog of craziness in some days, emerge seven pretty special chimpanzees that deserve all that hard work and love, and if that means working a bit late, having plans suddenly change, or being uncomfortably sweaty and smelly for a few hours, it’s all worth it.


Thinking Outside the Box

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Burrito is known around here as the guy who will eat anything, but even he has days when he’s just not in the mood for something. Today during lunch he saw new potential in a piece of eggplant.

Highly prized

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

There are a few foods that a lot of caregivers mildly dread serving to the chimpanzees. One of these foods is corn on the cob. Corn is a hot commodity for the chimps and with its distinguished deliciousness, comes a wave of competitive desire from a few of the dominant individuals (namely Jamie and Jody) to try and steal as many pieces of corn as possible from the other chimps. This as you might imagine, is not seen as a popular tactic and can cause chaos and screams to ring through the sanctuary. We rarely serve whole pieces of corn any more because it causes so much drama, and instead will break the cobs in half, or cut them into many tiny pieces for play room forages. Today however, we decided to spread whole corn far and wide out on Young’s Hill. There is something about having all that extra space for foraging out on the hill that the chimps seem genuinely satisfied and lose a little bit of that competitive tension.

Of course there are some chimps that are a bit more successful…

Negra seemed so pleased with her one large corn that she headed right back inside with it to enjoy:

Burrito needed a lot of reassurance from Foxie because he was so thrilled (note how “fluffy” he looks with his hair standing on end). Foxie was perfectly happy to pick up a bunch of primate chow that we also scattered with the corn.

Jamie and Missy were moving and eating quickly, but I promise they got lots of lunch too!

Annie ate all of her corn while she was outside: