Archive for the ‘Volunteers’ Category

Jamie and Her Squad

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jamie wrangled up some of her favorite human and non-human friends for a walk around Young’s Hill. Missy followed right behind Jamie while Foxie came for a hot minute and turned back. Jody had plans of her own today. While we all walked, Jody foraged for some plants. Check it out!

Jamie’s squad:

Jody enjoying her forage while Burrito fixes his hair:





Sunday, June 18th, 2017

The majority of our chimp house volunteers have no direct interaction with the chimpanzees. The caregivers you see on our blog playing with the chimps or serving them meals are either staff or specially trained, long-term volunteers. Volunteers are typically with us for at least a year before they are eligible for this training. The training process lasts several months, and volunteers are required to commit to at least another year as volunteers after that.

These volunteers learn not only how to safely interact with the chimpanzees, but how to be good chimp friends. They learn chimp behavior and etiquette so that they can communicate with the chimps in their own language and integrate seamlessly into the social group. They become important and stable parts of the chimps’ circle of friends.


Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Considering one human is responsible for keeping seven hungry chimps happy at meals, most of them go remarkably smoothly.

Keeping cool

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Today has been all about enjoying the brilliantly sunny day while doing our best to keep cool. We’ve reached that wonderful time of year when we begin to remove the panels on the greenhouse and the chimps enjoy breakfast in the open air with a view of the hill. Volunteer caregiver Lizz made an extremely popular smoothie this morning (pineapple, banana and lime) and served apples and watermelon so the chimps were beside themselves.

Annie emptying her cup and Jody on the left licking up a drop from the caging:

Everyone was so happy this morning that even Negra couldn’t contain herself and initiated a wrestling game with Missy in the middle of breakfast (you can see a glimpse of Missy’s big play face!):

Foxie and Jody anxious for Lizz to pass out watermelon:

Foxie rubbing her toes in happiness:

After breakfast the chimps all headed out onto the hill with almost everyone heading to the top. Annie chose to go on her own exploration, as she often does:

Annie is her own woman. She has so many endearing habits – walking bipedally around Young’s Hill more often than not, making her Annie-bird noises by whistling through her hands when she’s particularly content, and lying on her back and blowing water out of her mouth to wash her face. With the temperatures hovering around 90, she has taken to doing this as a way cool off as well:

The chimps have been enjoying lots of frozen and watery treats today to stay hydrated and we even broke out the snow cone machine.

My favorite mountain lupines are finally blooming around Young’s Hill and there is an entire field that reaches inside and outside the perimeter of the chimps’ outdoor habitat. Walking through that area is my favorite part of the walks with Jamie this time of year. Sometimes the amazing scent wafts through the greenhouse:

For the first time I noticed several Melissa Blues, a small violet-blue butterfly I have typically only seen at higher elevations around the mountain lakes and rivers. There were so many floating around the lupine today it looked as if the flowers were taking flight:

It’s such a beautiful time at the sanctuary. Be it butterflies, flowers, beautiful days, exciting fresh food, or big-hearted humans, I’m so grateful for all the beauty, in all it’s varied forms, that surrounds the chimps every day.

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).

Jody: Head, Shoulders….

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Part of being a Level II volunteer at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is working towards passing identification tests for all of the chimpanzees.

We have some new interns from Central Washington University’s Primate Behavior and Ecology Program right now who are working on their id skills.

Something about helping with id today got a song stuck in my head…


Here’s Jody’s…



Jody head



jody shoulders



Jody knees


and Toes

Jody toes



Jody knees


and Toes

jody toes 2





Jody eyes


and Ears:

Jody ears


and Mouth:

Jody drooped lip face


and Nose:

Jody nose



…. what do you think? Could you id Jody now?


Actually, a few years ago, Elizabeth did some blog posts for each of the chimpanzees to help blog readers with id that are probably much more helpful – check them out if you’re interested!


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!


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 Missy in Motion…

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

Today was a great day!

Way back in the spring, Charlie Nickerson of Troop 80 in Seattle contacted J.B. about doing his eagle scout project to help the sanctuary. We’re not able to say yes to all requests we get from people interested in doing volunteer projects like this, but we had just had a bunch of fire hose donated, so J.B. got Charlie started on the idea of making some fire hose hammocks to add to the interest of Young’s Hill.

A whole group of people joined in the hanging of the two awesome new hammocks, including other members of Troop 80, Shawn (J.B.’s new right-hand maintenance volunteer), John, and two CWU students – Ruth and Kyle.

It was pouring when they arrived this morning, so the chimps didn’t mind not having access to their outdoor habitat. The team worked outside in the wet weather with J.B. while volunteer Rachel and I cleaned up the chimp house.

scouts hanging hammock 2

scouts hanging hammock

In addition to the two new hammocks, the group also hung fire hose in various areas on the hill, connecting structures to each other.

Luckily, by the time they were finished with all of this manual labor, the weather had cleared up. So, the hardworking team spread a forage on the hill for the chimps and watched all seven chimpanzees forage for their lunch and explore the new features of their habitat.

scout group watching

I took what seemed like hundreds of photos of the chimps enjoying these new features and foraging, and I’ve narrowed down a couple of series to share in this blog post.

You probably know that we celebrate Jamie’s birthday on Halloween, which is just a few days away, but Missy might have thought all the new fire hose was a present just for her.

I am calling the below series of photos: “A Missy in Motion Tends to be the Best Thing Ever.”


Here is Missy standing next to Annie. Take a moment to admire Missy’s thigh muscles:

Missy standing on bar


In her element, Missy tightrope walking and otherwise using existing and newly hung fire hose to traverse all over the hill:

Missy tightrope walking


Missy climbing


Missy traversing fire hose


Missy in motion


Later in the day, Missy discovered some food cleverly hidden in new fire hose wrapped around a log post:

Missy finding hidden food


Every once in a while, she would stop to rest:

Missy sitting


But not for long! Here she is climbing into one of the new hammocks:

Missy climbing on new hammock


I’d say it’s a hit:

Missy sitting in new hammock



This next series of Jamie I am calling, “Perfect Dismount”

Jamie tightrope walking

Jamie tightrope walking

Jamie hanging


A very cleverly hung piece of hose that Jamie couldn’t resist trying out:

Jamie swinging

Jamie swinging

Jamie swinging

Jamie swinging

Jamie swinging

Jamie dismount


Annie may have found her new favorite hangout:

Annie sitting in new hammock


Burrito explored a new hammock by himself later in the day:

Burrito checking out hammock


And then he peeked at us from the lookout:

Burrito lookout


Thanks to everyone who helped make the day a great one, including all of you reading and sharing this – your support makes every day great!