I went out to the greenhouse this afternoon to snap a few photos of the chimpanzees—most of whom were lounging in hard-to-see spots, so I was out of luck. However, front and center was Mr. Burrito, looking handsome as ever.
Posts Tagged ‘Animal Welfare’
Annie was not brimming with confidence when she arrived at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. (This is an understatement.) She had a couple of things working against her: her position at the very bottom of the social hierarchy, and decades of history in research labs during which she lived in fear and frequent pain. She had every reason to believe that the world was not kind.
During her early days at the sanctuary, Annie had regular anxiety attacks. If she felt threatened by another chimpanzee, or sometimes for no discernible reason at all, she would throw herself on the ground while screaming and flailing. She was glued to her best friend Missy’s side, and would become noticeably agitated if they were separated. At the sanctuary she was given space to roam, other chimps to play with, nourishing food, and caregivers who adore her. But she was not at ease.
Fast forward almost seven years, and Annie is a different person.
She has shed her old demons and has been hard at work building a whole new Annie. This new Annie is filled with peace and joy and wonder. She plays with friends and stands up for herself during family disagreements and claps her feet and makes bird noises and is not afraid of solitude.
This new Annie greets the world with a glint in her eye.
Okay, so, not quite a jungle—but the grass is very tall on Young’s Hill and the weeds are at the perfect stage for chimp snacking! Everyone has been on the hill a lot today, Negra was even out there on her own for awhile!
Even after nearly seven years in sanctuary, we still see the chimpanzees growing and truly coming into their own. I find that no matter how many times we see the chimps on the hill, it will never, ever get old. It’s still so awesome to see them outside, in their element foraging for tasty snacks, and sometimes even venturing to a point where we can’t see them!
It’s moments like those that make us reflect on how incredible sanctuary is and how much you all have really changed the lives of the Cle Elum Seven. Young’s Hill would not have been possible without generous gifts from supporters such as yourselves, and the exciting new projects we have in mind would never be able to get off the ground if it weren’t for our remarkable CSNW family. Words could really never say how much your support means to us, or to the chimpanzees, but maybe a few pictures can.
Jody in the grass jungle:
Negra, all on her own munching on some grass and weeds:
We are gearing up for our HOOT! gala in a couple weeks—the biggest fundraiser of the year, where folks can help sustain the sanctuary and support more indescribable moments like Jody getting lost in the grass jungle, and Negra hanging out on the hill all on her own for some delicious dandelion greens.
This year, I have been helping get all the auction items organized and ready for the big night. I’m astounded by all the wonderful items that have been donated! We have a preview site available, so check that out and decide now what you plan to bid on!
Join us May 30th for a fun night and learn more about the last seven years of moments!
Today after cleaning the playroom, we put a small drop of non-toxic dish soap in the pool and filled it up with water. The chimpanzees all enjoy soapy water. Jamie sometimes uses it to scrub the floor, while others like to take big mouthfuls of it. They seem to like the sensation of the foamy bubbles in their mouths. There’s no denying it – bubbles are just fun.
After breakfast Jamie set out onto Young’s Hill with purpose in her step.
We watched as she very methodically selected a bamboo shoot and headed back into the greenhouse.
As it turns out, she had unsuccessfully attempted to get some peanuts outside the caging using a toy rake. The handle was just slightly too big to reach out to the peanuts.
The bamboo stick was a little too cumbersome, so Jamie needed to tweak it a bit. First she broke it in half, and then she removed some of the branches.
Now that she designed the perfect tool, she could reach the peanuts!
As many of you know, our beloved (and sometimes troublesome) resident elk, Ellie, has made it a very well-known fact that she is in fact a horse. Or a cow. Or a goat. Or a human! But certainly not a wild elk. Despite her outward friendliness, we still keep our distance—she is still wild, after all, and ideally we would love for her to be more wild and less attracted to sticking around humans.
Today, Elizabeth spotted Ellie up on a high hill to the south of the sanctuary property. We both laughed, saying “what is Ellie doing way over there?” And then we realized, when four other elk followed, that wasn’t Ellie at all! We got very excited to see a small herd, which is sort of amusing when we see Ellie every day—elk really aren’t novel animals to us. But a herd! So exciting.
Unfortunately, Ellie was busy breaking into our compost bin—a very Ellie-type thing to do—so she missed the herd as they passed through. As much as we wish for her to be wild, we recognize that she is a unique being. She probably will always be more human-oriented because of how she grew up. Honestly, I’m not sure she would identify herself as an elk.
Imagine growing up with another species as your primary caregivers—you would undoubtedly have some sort of identity crisis. And though it is no one’s fault that Ellie was separated from her herd and ended up living at the farm next door, it’s definitely not the ideal situation for an elk.
For a chimpanzee, living in a human home is even more unnatural, and not surprisingly chimpanzees raised so closely with humans really struggle with their identity. Elizabeth wrote about “Burrito the misfit” the other day, and it’s so true. If he had been raised in an appropriate social environment, he most likely would be alpha male.
Some other “side effects” to being raised in an natural environment are Jamie’s love of boots and Foxie’s love of trolls. Though these are just part of everyday life here at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, when you think about it for a minute, it really is quite odd. But they are all unique beings and all have their idiosyncratic tendencies. For Ellie, that means rummaging through things, sitting in Diana and JB’s garden, and taking perimeter walks alongside the humans as Jamie leads the way on the inside of Young’s Hill.
For Foxie, that means delighting in these sort of funny-looking dolls with big eyes, crazy colorful hair, and hard plastic bodies. Here she is in a calm relaxing moment with one of her dolls (you can see just part of the troll in the top picture—he/she is out of the frame in the others but was still in her hand).
We had a group of students visit today from The Northwest School, and the chimpanzees were very curious about them.
It was our first group visit at the observation area this year, and the weather was beautiful! Just like our summer visits, a staff member (J.B. today) gave a presentation first in the barn, providing information about the history of the sanctuary and chimpanzees in general, including the use of chimpanzees in the pet, entertainment, and biomedical industries.
Once the group came to the observation area, Jamie, being Jamie, was outside in a flash and spent some time checking out everyone’s footwear.
Negra, on the other hand, held back for a bit. Sometimes it seems that Negra avoids visitors, but today she went out on the hill, ignoring the forage at first, and just calmly checked out the visitors from a distance.
Satisfied, she then went about her business looking for lunch forage scraps
In addition to providing an educational opportunity for supporters of the sanctuary, it’s our goal for our limited visitor program to add something new and interesting for the chimpanzees in a way that they do not feel at all threatened, so it was great to see Negra react with such calm curiosity today.
Burrito was curious when the group was loading back on the bus, after he had his fill of the forage. He chose to watch their departure from the greenhouse, where he could see them but they couldn’t see him:
Negra is the grandma of the Cle Elum Seven.
She is not the kind of grandma who bakes you cookies, but the kind who tells you to get your life together and grumbles about those kids on her lawn. Negra knows exactly who she is and what she likes. She is stuck in her ways. She appreciates comfort and routine and predictability (and peanuts and lettuce). She is highly suspicious of change. She will not tolerate your shenanigans.
Negra chooses to spend about 80% of her time in a big, soft nest in the same spot on the playroom catwalk, in front of a window that looks out over the valley. The playroom is warm and dry and safe, and Negra sees little reason to leave it.
But for a few short months out of the year, the conditions in the greenhouse are so perfect that even Negra can’t resist. She ventures out early in the morning to enjoy the warm sun and gentle breezes, and that’s usually where we find her when we arrive at the sanctuary to start the day. Soon enough the weather will change again and Negra will be back in her nest inside, buried under piles of blankets. But while it lasts, we’re thrilled to see Negra get out and see what the world has to offer.
I could not help but feel incredibly moved this morning, as myself and volunteers Erin and Tanya were cleaning the Greenhouse portion of the chimpanzee’s living quarters. There is a brightly colored painting with supporter names on the one main wall that caught my attention and I stopped to really look at it. There are so many names on the wall. As I continued to look around at all of the items in the Greenhouse, all I could think about was how every component of the sanctuary is the result of a community of loving, thoughtful and caring people.
There are so many components that make up the sanctuary, including various paintings on the walls that really help to brighten the chimpanzee areas. Various structures, tires and dangling fire hoses provide space for the chimps to climb, play, and rest. Countless blankets and enrichment items contribute to the chimpanzees’ comfort and well-being. Even the tools we use to clean, including the scrub brushes, squeegees, buckets, soap, right down to the very gloves we wear, help staff and volunteers keep the enclosures clean. Fresh fruits and vegetables make up each of the meals, while bamboo planted around Young’s Hill and in the Greenhouse give the chimps extra nesting and foraging material. And then there are the enclosures and storage spaces themselves that have been made possible by those who have donated their time, energy, expertise and the actual materials needed to construct them.
All of CSNW, every square inch, every little detail, has been made possible by countless volunteers and generous supporters. These chimpanzees are loved world wide and I can’t think of a better gift to give them than a community that is dedicated to their well-being. I know it can never make up for the countless ways in which they have been wronged in the past, but it’s the best we all can do to provide them a now and a future that is full of hope, love and sanctuary.
Looking around and seeing all the parts that make up the whole got me to thinking, why do we do it? Why do we dedicate our lives to the well-being of these chimpanzees? Is it a sense of responsibility, a way to show our compassion for all living beings, or is it when we look into their eyes, we see ourselves? Perhaps there are no words to describe why. What is your reason for being a part of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest?
Which ever way you choose to support the sanctuary, know that you have and will continue to make a huge impact on the lives of these chimpanzees. And thank you!!! Thank you those who have and those who continue to volunteer at the sanctuary; those who have donated their time, energy and services to help our various fundraising efforts including the HOOT! Gala event; those who help spread the word about the plight of chimpanzees in captivity and in the wild through our Eyes on Apes advocacy program; those who have donated items through our Wishlist, and those who choose to Sponsor a day in honor of a loved one or directly sponsor a chimpanzee through our Chimpanzee Pal program. Thank you for being a part of the CSNW community.