Archive for the ‘Boots’ Category

Planning and modifying

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Jamie is an extremely adept tool user.

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.

 

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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

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Sundays are Important

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Sundays are important for catching up on sleep, chores, and just plain old relaxation. Jamie and Burrito took full advantage of resting while the playroom was being cleaned. Napping was a good idea because today was a busy day with a summer visit and a forage on the hill.

Jamie made a huge nest with blankets and at least 4 boots:

Burrito napped on a platform and used a very comfortable blanket to rest his head:

After Jamie left, Burrito thought the sandbox looked comfortable to take a nap in:

Or play, because we all know he can’t resist a good game:

Moments of comfort

Monday, August 7th, 2017

After experiencing over 30 years of deprivation, it never ceases to amaze me (or make my heart burst) to see the chimpanzees so fully embrace a life of comfort in their own unique ways. It physically hurts my heart to think of all they went without for so long and makes each moment of joy and comfort for them all the more meaningful.

The chimps recently received some new SUPER fluffy fleece blankets and they adore them. They look as though they are floating on clouds sitting in their nests, the blankets sometimes as high as their chests. We found two super voluptuous nests this morning while cleaning the playroom. Despite Jamie’s aversion to snakes, she really loves to incorporate the stuffed toy snakes into her nests:

Jamie (we assume) decided to use a chopstick to remove a washer from somewhere yet to be discovered. She is far too smart for our own good:

This beauty was spread out over the catwalk:

Beautiful Annie lounging:

Jody in particular loved the new blankets (naturally) and frequently rubbed her head and face against them:

Jody’s sweet feet in a cloud of fluff as she napped this morning:

Seeing the chimps surrounding themselves in comfort will never grow old.

Moments with Jamie

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Jamie enjoyed a particularly relaxing moment this afternoon as she had Jake, one of the graduate students who is currently in training to be a volunteer caregiver, groom her back. She’s training him very well:

I’d like to share a story about Jamie from today that although we couldn’t get photos of, is too wonderful not to include you in. After lunch Jamie asked for her favorite pair of boots and began building a nest with them, which is pretty typical. When Kelsi and I walked down the human hallway of the chimp house awhile later we found her sound asleep and snuggled up with an empty boot box we’d given the chimps for enrichment. When Jamie saw us (because there’s no sneaking up on a chimpanzee), she immediately got excited and asked to go on a walk. Kelsi had put on another boot when suddenly Jamie grabbed the boot box and opened it up. Much to our surprise, she had placed her beloved pair of black boots inside just as if they were a new pair! Maybe you had to be there, but Kelsi and I looked at each other in amazement. It was incredibly endearing. Jamie promptly took the boots, ran upstairs to the loft area and tossed them over the top of the caging so that Kelsi could put them on for a walk and off they went. No matter how long we work with the chimps, they continue to amaze us every day.

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Sundays Are For The Girls

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Today is a mild 85º. The perfect day for a forage and napping!

 

Negra enjoying a forage on the hill today:

Jamie nesting with one of her favorite boots:

Annie in the greenhouse enjoying the weather:

A selection

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Each day, caregivers put out carefully selected enrichment items into the enclosures for the chimpanzees to enjoy. Objects like clothing, crayons, magazines, paper, and kids toys are placed around to try and peak the chimps’ interests (or sometimes to just give them something to throw). There are two types of enrichment items that are an absolute requirement for each enclosure: Foxie’s dolls and Jamie’s boots. No area at the sanctuary is fully enriched without at least one cowboy boot and a Dora or troll doll.


The Things We Carry

Friday, May 26th, 2017

A few months ago, Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest was invited to contribute to an exhibit in the Museum of Culture and Environment at Central Washington University. The exhibit, entitled “The Things We Carry,” would feature objects of significance to the members of our local community.

Our community, of course, includes seven chimpanzees, and you’d be hard pressed to find objects of greater significance to their owners than the boots and dolls carried by Jamie and Foxie.

During the opening reception for the exhibit, Dr. Jessica Mayhew, who is both a professor in the Primate Behavior and Ecology program at CWU and a CSNW volunteer, provided some very moving remarks on the installation:

When you have the opportunity to go in and experience the exhibit, you’ll see some objects that undoubtedly look familiar to you.  A pillowcase, a toddler’s dress, empty bags of potato chips.  Also encased are some cowboy boots and dolls.  Cowboy boots in this region are common, and many of us can surely remember the various iterations of Troll dolls beginning in the 1960s.

But what’s special about these boots and these dolls, is that the objects do not belong to humans, they belong to two chimpanzees from Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest: Jamie and Foxie.  Jamie and Foxie are only two of seven chimpanzees residing at CSNW, and they are not the only chimpanzees that carry objects, but their object carrying has become iconic, picked up in popular news stories across the US and globally.

As a primatologist, I have watched my fair share of object manipulation, tool creation, and object play in macaques, in capuchins, in the large-bodied apes.  Jane Goodall first described tool use in chimpanzees in 1960, when she observed David Greybeard termite fish with a piece of grass.  We’ve been grappling with the implications of those observations ever since.

Objects occupy a wide functional range in the lives of primates.  Some are used in the acquisition and processing of food – capuchin monkeys carry large, hard hammer stones up from nearby riverbeds to their nut cracking sites; chimpanzees have been observed to carry sticks, stems, and sturdy grasses from one location in their home range to termite and ant nests, where they know they will not find suitable fishing materials.  Objects do not always have to be inanimate: mother primates regularly carry their infants, most often on their backs, but sometimes on the chest, which can make walking a bit of a challenge.  Still other objects are used in ways that we have only begun to observe and decipher: stone handling in multiple macaque species, log and rock cradling in chimpanzees.

But there is something different when the object is one that’s familiar to us; one that may have played a large role in our childhood, like dolls or action figures, or is an object that is perhaps a part of the larger cultural fabric of a place, like cowboy boots.  When familiar objects are put into hands that are a little less familiar, it makes the divide between human and non-human a little bit narrower.

There are 7 chimpanzees at CSNW, all of them very much individuals, all of them vibrant and compelling; they were known as “The Buckshire Seven”, because they were housed at the Buckshire Corporation in a windowless basement, and spent the majority of their lives leased out for various biomedical studies.  Jamie was born in captivity around 1977, and she spent the first nine years of her life in the entertainment industry before entering into the biomedical realm.  Foxie, on the other hand, was born into the biomedical industry in 1976: she was used in vaccine trials, she was used as a breeder.  Each time she gave birth, her infant was carried away by humans.
This group became “The Cle Elum Seven” when they moved to sanctuary in 2008.  Jamie has spent the last nine years of her life, taking chimpanzee patrols around the property with her human friends, who are always in boots.  Foxie has no shortage of dolls to carry with her, and no risk of them not being there each day.

The exhibit description tells us that, “Objects hold memories. Physical things carry traces of people we have loved, times of joy and terror, and places we may have heard of, but never visited.  They connect us to distant homelands and important moments in personal and family memory. Through our objects, we carry with us complex emotions and histories.  Sometimes, in contemplating these material things, we discover new insights about where we have come from and whom we might become.”

Maybe Jamie’s very specific love of cowboy boots comes from her early days reared with humans.  Maybe Foxie’s love of dolls comes from never fully experiencing motherhood.  Maybe, I’ll leave that for them to know, ultimately.  But I will say that these objects serve as reminders for us, as onlookers, for where these chimpanzees have been and for what humans have done to them.   They are powerful expressions of both great sadness and great silliness.  But they also serve as symbols of hope, that circumstances can change, that life can be better and full of kindness and compassion.

The exhibit title, “The Things We Carry” seems all the more fitting now with the inclusion of these artifacts from our closest relatives.  This is a community-curated exhibition.  Not just this local community of humans with stories to tell, and memories to conjure, but the deep roots shared by humans and our closest kin.  Indeed, we are all carrying physical, emotional, and metaphorical things.

 

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