Archive for the ‘Caregivers’ Category

Thank you, Keri!

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

We’re sad to announce that caregiver and master-of-all-things-enrichment, Keri Heniff, is stepping down from her role as a part-time staff member at CSNW. The good news, however, is that she’s not really going anywhere – Keri will continue to make the long drive from Leavenworth to care for the Cle Elum Seven as a volunteer. We’ll just see her a little less often.

Keri has been a true friend to the chimps and an indispensable member of the team here at CSNW. So even though we’re not really losing her, I hope you’ll join me in taking this moment to thank her for her hard work, her dedication, and her devotion to the chimps.

And by the way, Keri, Jamie has made it clear that the boots will fit the same whether you are a staff member or a volunteer and she expects the same number of walks when you are here.

We’re looking forward to introducing you to CSNW’s newest staff member, Kelsi, in June when she completes her cross-continental journey from Quebec.

Cooling Off

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Volunteer caregiver Becca brought out the mister today, and it was a hit (though Jody wasn’t sure at first).

The queen’s beck and call

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

When the usually aloof Negra comes looking for an interaction, you ALWAYS make time.


Saturday, May 13th, 2017

It’s finally here! Our biggest fundraiser of the year, our annual Hoot! Gala and Spring Fling celebration! And while the humans are on their way to one of the most unique and exciting parties in the city, they aren’t the only people partying. The chimps are having their own celebration with a dinner of field roast and roasted sweet potato on a bed of lettuce and cabbage, sparkling cider, and a huge forage with sweet onions, corn on the cob, and fresh coconuts:

On this one day of the year, we have to get the chimps settled in earlier than usual so that staff working in the chimp house have time to get spiffed up and head to the gala. Routine and the comfort and security of knowing what to expect are important to the chimps and we don’t want to veer from that more than necessary or have them getting bored with a little more time on their hands, so a sure fire way to keep everyone active, happy and engaged is to set out an exciting forage cut into teeny, tiny pieces.

Annie sitting in a field of forage:

Burrito was beside himself, as usual when there’s food involved (that’s Jody behind him):

Jamie likes to drag a table around with her during forages for easier collection:

She decided to eat the field roast first and save the rest for later:

While Jamie was occupied elsewhere, Burrito bravely decided to steal her leftover dinner “boats.” I braced myself for Jamie to scream at the top of her lungs (her tactic when someone is touching – or even thinking about touching – something she doesn’t want them to), but she must have decided she found something else worth her attention and Burrito scooped them up without issue and food squeaked to celebrate:

Annie mid food grunt (you can just make out Negra’s ear as she sits in the sunny window below Annie enjoying her dinner with a view):

Jody, ever the adventurous foodie, was collecting corn cobs:

Foxie and Missy were ladies of the loft for this one and out of sight of the camera.

Anna, myself and volunteer, Helen, put the chimps’ dinner out a couple hours ago and Jamie is still foraging!

The chimps are completely silent as I write this so I just went to check on everyone. And who did I find, but this guy, fighting off a food coma in the last sun puddle of the day:

Somehow he mustered enough energy to still be an adorable goof:

But it was so hard:

There are some crazy amazing items of this guy (and more!) up for auction tonight. To all of you who have helped sponsor this amazing celebration, volunteers who have helped plan this party of all parties, to all those working to make it special for our guests, those who are attending the gala and making it so much fun, those who will be raising your paddles high or who have been pre-bidding online, and those of you cheering us on from home, there aren’t enough words of thanks to each of you for making everything that you do, possible. You make this sanctuary for these seven amazing chimpanzees a home. A home filled with love, comfort, joy, adventure and healing. And we hope a home for others, who are awaiting their day in their own sun puddles.

Hoots of love and gratitude from all of us to all of you! Have a fantastic evening and check in tomorrow for our celebration of Jody’s birthday and Mother’s Day! Yep, that’s how we roll in the chimp house…party, after party. Hopefully, Burrito is revived by then…

Spring, storms, this and that.

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Springs storms are rolling through the area today and in typical fashion we go from sun, to cold wind, to rain, to hail and back to sun.

But spring hail (if you live in Cle Elum :)) brings the first tiniest of spring flowers:

No matter the weather, Missy asks to have the barn doors at the end of the playroom open and checks the garden every day!

And every time we open them up for the chimps to have a peek, it creates quite a ruckus and Missy is thrilled. She and Missy immediately began chasing each other around the playroom, laughing:

Jamie was keeping a close eye on the approaching storms from the chimp house windows after an aborted attempt at walking around the hill. She left me standing half way up on the windy hillside calling after her as she high-tailed it back to the greenhouse. Maybe she’s becoming a fair weather chimp?

It’s been a quiet afternoon with the unpredictable weather and the chimps have mostly congregated together in the toasty greenhouse to groom. If you are new to chimpanzee behavior, grooming is extremely important in chimp society. It’s a way to clean themselves and one another as well as to attend to any wounds, but it’s primary importance is that of building and maintaining their bonds with one another. Chimps use grooming to build relationships in the hierarchy and “get in good” with the more dominant chimps, it’s how they maintain bonds with friends, it’s how they soothe and calm each other and it’s how they make up after a fight. And here at CSNW, sometimes the chimps will choose to include their caregivers in their grooming. The chimpanzees relationships with one another are always the priority, but it’s always special when they include us.

Missy likes to groom herself with a small stick (seen here grooming her own arm) and invited me to do the same. For safety reasons we never allow our fingers to pass through the caging and the chimps know that if they want us to groom them or give them a knuckle rub, they have to press their body against the caging. You can’t see it here, but I am only using my forefinger and thumb to hold the tool – we keep as many fingers as we can tucked back for safety…That leg!

Here Annie (using her lips on her arm) and Jody are self-grooming:

Burrito was resting in the corner while Foxie groomed him, but he eventually moved down to groom with Jody:

The chimps have been loving the greenhouse today and even after an exciting dinner forage of roasted onions, pears, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes, they all took their evening enrichment of peanut butter in containers out to the greenhouse to enjoy. This is pretty unusual because they are typically building their night nests about this time. Keri and I said goodnight and received “crickets” in response. 🙂 Goodnight chimps! Goodnight friends of chimps!

Salon time

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

This is the closest that J.B. has ever come to getting a manicure…



Jamie grooming JB


Jamie with tool grooming JB


close up Jamie intent grooming JB

The things we do.

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

We are supposed to have a big winter storm headed our way tomorrow, but today has been dry and sooooooo cold, remaining well below freezing all day. So the chimps have been hunkered down in the toasty chimp house for the most part. They are handling it like troopers, but it can be extra challenging to try to pre-empt the inevitable boredom that comes with being stuck inside all day. So it’s in our mind throughout the day to come up with new, interesting, and even silly things.

One way to break up any tedium is for the humans to act as enrichment and attempt to entertain the chimps. So volunteer caregiver, Holly, and I took turns wearing a vibrant purple wig she brought in. Sometimes we get mixed reactions. Jamie will often look us up and down and just stare at us as if to express how embarrassed she is for us given our foolish behavior. Foxie will sometimes spit at us. And sometimes they will completely ignore us. But the wig was a hit with all today and had Foxie hanging upside down laughing and kicking the ceiling with her feet! Burrito was full of kisses for us and Missy thought it was pretty hilarious. Even the boss gave several head-nods of approval. So naturally, I had to have ever-the-good-sport Holly don the wig for lunch service. It’s the little things…:

Holly serving Jamie as Annie and Jody wait patiently:


Jody, Annie and Jamie (and Holly, of course):


After lunch, Jamie decided freezing temps or not, we were going for a walk. Missy is a good right-hand gal to Jamie and reluctantly, braved the cold with her. Missy kept stopping to wait for Annie who gave it a go, but in the end stood huddled with her arms wrapped around herself and then hightailed it bipedally back to the warm chimp house:


So Jamie and Missy and I carried on:



By the time we reached the downhill back to the chimp house we all decided to pick up the pace:


When it’s below 20 at night we close off the greenhouse to help maintain heat in the chimp house overnight. And the chimps wouldn’t be out there when it’s this cold anyway. After a warm dinner of roasted acorn squash, mini-peppers and onions along with peanut butter and banana inside cups for evening enrichment, and extra blankets still warm from the dryer, everyone is settled inside for the night. Jamie just asked for her favorite boots to sleep with and I just turned off the chimps’ lights. Everyone is tucked into their nests safe, warm and cozy for the night. So goodnight from the chimp house!

Burrito, Joy, and Giving

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Next to eating, playing is Burrito’s favorite thing.

In case you haven’t seen this morning’s newsletter yet (subscribe here if you’re not already), tomorrow is Giving Tuesday and the donations have already started rolling in. We have currently raised about $1800 toward our goal of $12,000, and we’ve only got until midnight tomorrow! Help keep Burrito and the other chimps supplied with all the food, toys, blankets, and friends (including new chimp friends!) that their hearts could desire by making a donation. We have a group of people pitching in for a matching challenge, so if you want to make a pledge, email Diana ( before donating. Thank you!

Thanksgiving 2016

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Today we’re thankful for delicious feasts, for food squeaks, for volunteers who spend their holiday spreading joy to the chimps, and for all of you who have so much love for seven chimpanzees you probably haven’t met. It’s been a good day.













Foxie and Jody resting after the party:


Most of the video footage we ended up with after today’s party happened to feature Burrito stuffing his face:

To all of you friends, supporters, volunteers, and well-wishers, thanks for giving Annie, Missy, Burrito, Jody, Foxie, Jamie, and Negra so much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!

A chimp family stroll

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

We are being gifted with a stretch of incredibly spring-like weather. The mornings start out damp, foggy and cold, but by the afternoon it’s warm, bright and sunny. The humans decided we needed a walk around Young’s Hill as much as Jamie did so we all decided to join her. The sight of a group of their caregivers always gets the chimps excited and often all or most of them will join us. This also gets our resident wild elk friend excited and she decided to tag along as well (though I am pretty sure the chimps attempted to un-invite her). You know, just a chimp family stroll in our own wonderful world at the sanctuary (missing Keri and Elizabeth who are home recovering from colds, and Negra and Foxie who were nesting in the sun).

We all hold so much gratitude in our hearts for this most special and magical of places and all who make it possible. A sanctuary to so many, non-human and human alike.

Anna, Diana, Yuri, Ellie and JB:


Missy and Annie (L) and Ellie and JB waiting for the others to join us:


Missy, Burrito and Jody suggested Ellie walk elsewhere at which point she ran to catch up with the humans:


On a second lap around the hill, Jamie decided to check out the happenings in the neighborhood atop her beloved Twister: