Archive for the ‘Enrichment’ Category

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


Secret Hideaway

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

First, I want to express our good wishes for all of our primate friends in Florida right now. We have been thinking about Save the Chimps, Center for Great Apes, and Jungle Friends since coverage of Hurricane Irma began. We know the humans at those sanctuaries have been working hard to prepare for the storm and rolling out their emergency preparedness plans in order to keep the non-human primates in their care safe. We’re so grateful for all that you do and know that you will update everyone when you can, just know you are in our thoughts.

Second, this is pretty difficult to believe, but we will be celebrating Annie’s 43rd birthday tomorrow!


We don’t know Annie’s actual date of birth, and, in fact, even the year could be wrong, but it’s important for us to celebrate the chimpanzees’ individual birthdays, even if the dates were chosen by us when they arrived. Be sure to check in tomorrow for the party recap!


And now, for the news of Jamie’s new hideout on the hill. It’s actually not new at all – it was one of the first features that we included on Young’s Hill.

tunnel construction

We called it Missy’s Tunnel because we had a plastic culvert in the playroom that Missy liked to run through when she was playing chase with Annie, so we imagined that she would do the same with a culvert partially buried and covered over with dirt on the hill.

We haven’t seen much play in the tunnel, though I have seen Missy run through it a time or two.

This summer, Jamie decided to adopt the tunnel and has been using it quite regularly as a resting stop when she’s doing her perimeter walks around the hill.

First, she coaxes one of her caregivers to put on a pair of boots and “join” her on the walk, then, when she gets to the tunnel, she proceeds to just hang out in there for several minutes while her human subject is left standing and waiting on the other side of the fence.


Jamie sitting in tunnel


When she’s good and ready, she emerges and resumes the walk.

Jamie coming out of tunnel


Despite not having a tunnel on the human side of the fence, I’m finding this ritual rather relaxing myself just watching her.

And it has brought back memories. At my elementary school, we had concrete tunnels on the playground. They were great places to cool down away from the sun for a bit, gossip with a friend, or just have a voluntary timeout from whatever else was going on. Even though they were out in the open and everyone knew about them, being in one felt like I was in a secret hideaway.

I like to think that Jamie feels the same way about her newfound private place.

Jamie sitting in tunnel












Friday, September 1st, 2017

Foxie and one of her many beloved trolls enjoy a break from the summer heat:


Planning and modifying

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Jamie is an extremely adept tool user.

The slow days of summer

Monday, August 28th, 2017

Hot days call for lounging, moving as little as possible and waiting for any and every breeze.

Diana captured these priceless photos of Jody:

Foxie got a new wild purple haired troll doll and chose to lie next to the caging for a game of pass the troll so as to move as little as possible:

Jamie Chimpanzee the Firefighter

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

You probably know that Jamie is a pretty awesome chimpanzee. What you may not know is how, last year, she alerted the humans to a fire that was approaching the sanctuary property. You can read about that here.

It’s fire season again here in the Northwest, and the Jolly Mountain Fire is currently burning in some forested back-country about twelve miles from the sanctuary (the sanctuary is not in danger).

That means that there are many firefighters and disaster responders in the area working hard. For the last ten days, Southwest Incident Management Team #3 was in charge of the all the many things that are part of responding to wildland fires, from community outreach to physical fire containment measures.

Alan Sinclair was leading that team and heard the story of Jamie alerting us to the fire last year. He contacted us and brought out a group of firefighters and Forest Service workers to learn more about the story and to assess the firewise measures and fire preparedness at the sanctuary.

Then, they decided to do something amazing.

They made Jamie an honorary wildland firefighter! They created and gave her a certificate:


certificate for Jamie


a photo collage:

photo collage


AND an official pair of wildland firefighter boots (thanks for the boots, Sharma!)!!!


Michael Thompson (who, incidentally, won over Negra big time) put together this video to tell the story:



We are all so touched that the crew chose to recognize Jamie in this way. I was thinking about how fitting this really is for Jamie to have this honor. I don’t think I have to explain how much firefighters mean to us after our experience with the Taylor Bridge Fire. That first hand experience has made us much more aware of the work that they do all over the world.

Firefighters and first responders of all kinds risk their lives to protect others. They are the ones who go towards danger rather than running away from it.

For whatever reason, this is what Jamie does too (just check out this video of her capturing a snake last week). Jamie is not the most affectionate or nurturing chimpanzee of the group of seven at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, but she is a protector, and her chimpanzee and human family are lucky to have someone so brave among us.


Thank you, Jamie, and a big thank you to all firefighters out there! Please share this post and/or the video as a thank you to those who go towards danger to protect others around them.








Never Assume

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

When training new volunteers and staff, learning to identify the chimps is very important. The chimps all have distinguishing features about them. Staff will try to give helpful pointers to help figure out who is who. For example, Foxie has what looks like a bow tie on her swelling, some chimps have defined brow ridges like Jody, and Missy is petite and has a short neck. Some have freckles, permanently crazy bed hair, different body types, and others have scars or pieces of ears or toes missing. There is also the way that they carry themselves. Jamie often walks with confidence and always looks like she is 3 steps ahead of you. You can often find certain chimps in a particular area that they like or holding specific enrichment they are fond of. For example, Negra loves to make a nest on the second floor in the corner of the playroom. However, this is where it gets tricky and why we tell staff and volunteers to judge only by physical characteristics and not by what we know they like or where “their spot” is. I have also seen little Miss nesting in the same spot as Negra! Jamie loves boots and Foxie always has a doll with her, but they like to throw us curve balls! I often find someone else holding a doll like Jamie or even today I spotted Negra holding a troll doll and putting it in her pelvic pocket. We train our staff and volunteers to take their time identifying the chimps, get to know the chimps, and especially their physical characteristics!

Negra: Holding a troll doll

Excitement (or not) of the day

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

This morning, we humans noticed a large puddle above the greenhouse. Since we have not had significant rain in months, we knew that there must be an issue with the irrigation system. J.B. was called in to investigate, and Jody watched his every move very carefully (from a comfortable position):

Jody lay and look


The investigation involved entering Young’s Hill, which delayed the chimpanzees going onto the hill for a bit. Burrito and Foxie waited patiently together in a windowsill (look at those great chimpanzee feet):

Burrito and Foxie window sill


Negra, on the other hand, was happy to spend the extra time sleeping (I feel you, Negra):

Negra sleep


J.B. quickly fixed the issue (a blown hose), and the chimps were eager to get outside (well, except for Negra, who continued to sleep). Annie found a potato left over from yesterday’s forage (that’s pretty exciting):

Annie with potato


Jamie and Missy explored and made sure that J.B. didn’t leave anything out on the hill:

Jamie profile

Missy walk hill


Bonus photos – a lot of people ask if Jamie ever wears the boots that she loves so much. The answer is yes, occasionally. And today was one of those days:

Jamie wearing boot


Jamie stand platform





Jamie helps out

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Enrichment comes in many forms…

Reflections of Annie

Monday, August 14th, 2017

We sometimes refer to some of the chimps as “human-oriented” and others as more of a “chimp’s chimp.” Individual histories and personalities have Jamie, Burrito and Foxie choosing to spend more time interacting with the humans than their other family members, Missy, Jody, Negra and Annie. While the latter folks are occasionally interested in engaging with the humans, it’s more their preference to spend time with their chimp family. And as much as we love interacting with the chimps when they choose to, their relationships with one another are the priority.

All of that said, over the years the “chimps’ chimps” have shown increasing interest in interacting with the humans. Negra could watch us dance for ages, Missy now leaps on the caging in excitement before running off for a game of chase with her caregivers and enjoys long grooming sessions with us, Jody spends more time greeting us throughout the day, and Annie, well, Annie’s continuing to bloom and grow in pretty much all areas of her life as you may have read before.

I’ve often felt that Annie shares many similar interests with Jamie. She’s curious, intelligent and creative and loves to check out new projects and enrichment. Where in the past she was often hesitant to do so could have been because of her less dominant position and Jamie typically taking things over, and maybe it’s just that now that she is feeling more comfortable in her own skin, safe and secure, she finally has the space to follow her interests and express herself, no longer having to look at the world around her through the filter of anxiety and fear. Whatever the reason, she is a pure joy.

Today I decided to see if she was interested in taking some “selfies” and checking herself out on the iPhone with the camera screen turned toward her. As we all are with dear Annie, she appeared quite mesmerized with her reflection: