Archive for the ‘snow’ Category

Not Your Typical Day

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

Today was not our typical lazy Sunday at CSNW. After the chimps received access to the Hill everyone was out with Jamie, well everyone except Negra… Foxie was especially gleeful this morning. Foxie invited staff Caregiver Katelyn for a fun game of flip and hang upside down while tickling her with her doll, which I mean who could say no to that! Foxie is always playful and has the craziest moves, but today she put it all out on the dance floor. Check out the video to see Foxie’s moves.

Bonus photos of Foxie on Young’s Hill yesterday (photo credit to Diana, they were just to good to not share):

Sun, Snow, and Friends

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

We (finally) got a sprinkling of snow yesterday, so Anna and volunteer Becca filled up some buckets with the fluffy stuff and put them in the front rooms for the chimpanzees after we had finished cleaning.

It’s a gorgeous day today in central Washington. The sun came out early and has been shining bright all day. The snow on the ground catches the light and makes it look like the world is winking and sparkling.

snow sparkles


For Annie, today was the kind of day that you take a bucket of snow up to a window on the catwalk and enjoy the cold treat with the sun streaming onto your face.


And when her friends Jody and then Missy came by, she decided there was plenty to share:


Happy eve of Christmas Eve, everyone!


Brisk Mornings

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

Today was a beautiful brisk December morning, Jamie and I were on our usual perimeter walk. At the end of our walk I noticed Missy and Negra enjoying the warm sunshine beaming on Young’s Hill. Negra sat on a log watching Missy eat the little bit of snow left on the log, Negra then also took part in eating some snow! The Hill was pretty popular today even with the chill this morning, everyone made an appearance at one point. A little later, after I went back to the Playroom to help clean, I spotted Annie playing with the new mirror in the Greenhouse. Annie was being silly and flipping upside down and inspecting all the windows. Missy revealed herself from the cargo net near Annie, which made sense, Annie was trying to get Missy to play! It worked, they quietly played in the cargo net and I sneaked away so they could play in peace.


Missy eating snow:

Negra on the log & Missy eating snow:


Negra enjoying some snow:

Annie looking into the mirror:


Annie checking the window frames:

Missy taking a turn playing with the mirror (can you see her toes?):


Indoor games

Monday, November 6th, 2017

It’s been sunny today with no additional snow, but what we have has been taking its time melting and it’s still pretty chilly out.

The chimps have chosen to park themselves in front of sunny windows facing the valley to nap and groom and occasionally engage in games of chase, thundering through the loft of their playroom or nesting out of sight in the top of the greenhouse.

Foxie seems to be particularly enjoying the snow days and has been taking full advantage of the weather to enjoy some indoor games. She has also requested so many snowballs to eat that I think she has to take breaks in-between to be rowdy and raucous so she can warm herself up. So after a particularly large number of snowballs, we had a long bout of passing her beloved purple-haired doll back and forth with spins, leaps, pirouettes and general chimpanzee shenanigans.

Her she is lying on the heated floor playing with her doll and prepping to pass it to me through the caging:

Here she had two dolls and we were racing to pass them back and forth between us, always a favorite:

Foxie stopped to check out her image in the camera:

And what would be a proper game without standing on your head?

All those shenanigans can wear a girl out:

The First Snow

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

We woke up to our first snow today! There are some mixed feelings about this white dust.

1.) First and foremost we are excited to eat the snow!

2.) We like the beauty of it, but also it came too soon…

3.) It is making us a little reluctant to get outside…

SO… We like you snow, but please not yet!

Young’s Hill:

Jody eating some snow from the Hill entrance, but not going outside:

Burrito doing the same:

As enrichment we filled buckets with some snow and put them everywhere:

Jamie snuggling with a boot and keeping warm with blankets over her:


And the bravery award goes to…

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

September 20, 2011 was a big day for the chimpanzees at the sanctuary. On that day, a physical door opened for the first time, but the door was also a symbol. The physical door allowed the chimpanzees onto the two-acre habitat that we call Young’s Hill, named after donors Karen and Don Young. It’s opening symbolized the greatest measure of freedom than the chimpanzees had possibly ever experienced.

Freedom, wide-open spaces, nothing overhead, and being out in the elements came with a palpable amount of fear, along with the incredible excitement that the chimpanzees and the humans watching them were all feeling.

All of the chimpanzees went onto the hill that day. But in the days and weeks following, some of them were hesitant to venture out again. Their fears and uncertainty got the best of them. Jody and Foxie, as you’ll see in the October, 2011 video below, needed a little encouragement from Jamie even two weeks after the hill was available to them on a daily basis.



Jody and Foxie have both found their courage and now often seem nonchalant on the hill these days. But it’s still a different space than the familiar safety of walls and bars. The hill is nature – it transforms on a daily basis with the weather and the cycles of life that are constantly in play. It’s less predictable. When there’s snow on the ground like there is now, it can present very real physical challenges getting from one place to another.

Today I watched Jody traverse the snow-covered hill with grace, following and sometimes even leading her friends. Jody is a different chimpanzee than the Jody I met in 2008 and even the Jody that I knew last year.

I happened by a quote attributed to Nelson Mandela that I believe speaks to Jody’s continually evolving bravery. I changed it slightly:


Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave are not those who do not feel afraid, but those who conquer that fear.


Jody against the snow


Today’s bravery award goes to Jody.

Jody standing on metal pole


Jody with snow in her mouth

The great thaw

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

We’re nearing the end of the chimps’ ninth winter here at CSNW and while chimpanzees aren’t naturally cold weather animals, they have adapted quite well. When the first snowflakes fall each year, the chimps food grunt in anticipation of the endless snow and ice snacks that winter brings. As temperatures begin to plunge, they make cozy nests on the heated playroom catwalks and bask in the radiant warmth of the greenhouse.

This winter, however, is really testing the patience of the chimps and their caregivers alike. While most of the country is enjoying an early spring, our tiny little corner of the Pacific Northwest has been stuck with temperatures 15-20 degrees below average for months on end.

But that just makes each glimpse of spring that much more enjoyable.

As the snow melts, more trails are uncovered. The chimps launched out the door this morning knowing that more of Young’s Hill would be open to exploration. Burrito always knows how to make an entrance.

Females often greet male chimps with a submissive crouch, particularly when those males are exhibiting signs of physiological arousal like piloerection (hair standing on end). This, I believe, is not so much a sign of respect as it is self-preservation. You don’t want to get run over by a male chimp in full display.

For chimps, emotional moments are almost always shared through touch. As Robert Yerkes once said, “One chimpanzee is no chimpanzee.”

Missy and Jamie learned to navigate the hill using the fire hose vines years ago, but now others like Jody and Annie (pictured here) are joining in.

After touching nearly every fire hose and climbing almost every structure on the hill, Jamie seemed thoroughly satisfied.

Foxie and Burrito were not content to only freeze their butts off in the snow, so they made snowballs and ate them too.

One of Annie’s favorite places to sit is high up on the edge of a beam looking out over the Yakima River valley. Sometimes she closes her eyes and tilts her head up to the sun. I imagine that she, like us, enjoys feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays on her skin and seeing the patterns that the light plays on the back of her eyelids.

Winter Adventures

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

The sun came out this morning and the chimpanzees eagerly ventured outside for some snow.

I’m pretty sure that Jody was feeling the love from her new Chimpanzee Pals!




Thank you to everyone who is an existing or new Chimpanzee Pal and to everyone who has made a Share the Chimp Love donation so far!


Here’s Missy with Jody behind her:



And here’s Foxie with Annie behind her. The path through the snow makes it a single file adventure:

Foxie and Annie

Foxie & Annie


We understand that Dr. Elliott Sumers, whose birthday is tomorrow, and his family are experiencing their own winter adventures. We hope they had fun in the snow today too!




Fall in love with Annie

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

We are creating and sharing videos of all of the chimpanzees in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day!

Starting with beautiful Annie:


Learn more
about how to participate in the Share the Chimp Love fundraising or how to become a Chimpanzee Pal.


And if the above video didn’t quite convince you to become Annie’s newest Pal, here are a few photos from today of Annie making the most of winter by enjoying the snow and icicles served indoors:


and the biggest snow forage imaginable (aka the outdoors right now):


Seriously, how could you NOT fall in love?!


More snow adventures & thanks to volunteers!

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Annie is continuing to show her newfound adventurous nature.

annie in snow

annie standing on snow

The other chimpanzees (well, most of them) were inspired to follow her out into the snowy expanse of Young’s Hill this afternoon.

The pair of photos below of Annie and Jody are my favorite! It’s so uplifting to see the chimpanzees support one another and share in adventures big and small:

jody and annie in snow

profiles of jody and annie


Foxie and Missy were 3rd and 4th out. The photo below is of Foxie giving Missy a quick hug before continuing along the path:

foxie hugging missy


Foxie didn’t have to go very far to find a snack:

foxie sitting with snow


Nor did Missy:

missy gathering snow

missy holding snow


Jody seemed to be in awe of the snow:

jody profile close-up


and dove right in for a taste:

jody eating snow

jody eating snow


Jamie came out after a few minutes and headed straight for a structure. She often takes the lead in adventures, but not today.

jamie sitting on structure


Though she did win points for her acrobatics once outside:

jamie tightrope

jamie swing

jamie swing 2

jamie swing 3


She also found some big chunks of snow to bring back into the building to savor:

jamie smell snow

jamie carry snow


Negra and Burrito didn’t follow these adventurers, but I did see Negra coming in later in the day, and I have no doubt Burrito at least reached an arm out to get a taste.


Before ending this post, I have to express our gratitude for volunteers and interns. This week we have really relied on you!

After being sick for a week herself, Katelyn has been the only healthy full time staff member this week. We’re very deliberate about staying away from the chimp house when we are feeling under the weather because we don’t want the chimpanzees to catch our bugs, so volunteers and interns have been life savers!

Today I’m much better but still not at 100%. I was able to don a mask and gloves to operate doors but luckily had an incredible crew of volunteers and Central Washington University interns who did the (literal) dirty work all day.






Thank you to all of you who give your free time to the sanctuary – it makes a huge difference to all of the primates here!