Posts Tagged ‘Animal Welfare’

Take Action Tuesday! Tell Ramsay to stick to yelling at would-be chefs and leave chimpanzees alone

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

EOA take action tuesday

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay recently posted photos of himself and his family members holding a baby chimpanzee to his Facebook page. The chimpanzee is showing his or her top teeth in this photo, which is actually a fear grin—not a smile.

Chimpanzees are not pets! They are wild animals who should be with their mothers when they are young, and who are dangerous when they get older. Seeing chimpanzees in close contact with humans perpetuates the idea that they can be treated like pets.

We’re so disappointed that Gordon Ramsay is promoting the exotic animal trade rather than using his celebrity status to protect chimpanzees, who are critically endangered in the wild.

We want Gordon Ramsay to remove the Facebook photos of the baby chimpanzee. Please send a polite letter to him, c/o his publicist Staci Wolfe, letting him know that chimps should not be used for photo ops alongside humans. Please urge Ramsay to remove all the photos from his Facebook page and promise to never host a visit with a chimpanzee again.


You may send your letter to Gordon Ramsay c/o Staci Wolfe at

Sample Letter to Gordon Ramsay:

Dear Mr. Ramsay:

I was disappointed to hear that you took photos with your family holding a baby chimpanzee and posted them to your Facebook page. You should know that when chimpanzees show their top teeth it is a sign of distress, not happiness.

Chimpanzees provided for photos ops to pose with humans are torn away from their mothers as infants, often repeatedly beaten during training, and then discarded when they become too strong to be managed.

Using a chimpanzee for a photo op sends the message that these amazing beings are simply props. When people see you holding a baby chimpanzee, they assume that chimpanzees make good pets. Though chimpanzees may seem cute and cuddly when infants, they become dangerous as they get older. They are an endangered species that should be protected, not used for entertainment.

Please make the compassionate decision to remove the photos, and pledge to never pose holding baby chimpanzees again. Thank you for your consideration of my comments on this urgent matter.

[Your name here]

If you send an e-mail to Gordon, please remember to BCC Eyes on Apes at for tracking purposes. Thank you!

Rainy days

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Yesterday, Jamie received a package in the mail with new cowgirl boots from our long time supporters and friends, Don and Karen Young (for whom Young’s Hill was named thanks to their generous contribution to making it possible). When we arrived at the sanctuary this morning, Jamie was watching us from the greenhouse and as soon as we got out of our cars she immediately gestured that she was ready for a walk with her new boots. I think that’s something we can all relate to.

A wonderful article, featuring the chimpanzees, was posted today on One Green Planet speaking to the many ways in which chimpanzees and humans are alike. And today at the sanctuary was another simple example of that. We are getting some much needed rain to the area and the chimpanzees and humans alike are kicking up their heels a bit more with the cooler temperatures. And although Jamie was ready and waiting for an early morning walk, due to intermittent thunder showers, we had to wait for the voltage on the electric fencing surrounding the chimpanzees’ outdoor area to come up before we could give the chimps access to the hill. So just as we humans do when we are waiting for stormy weather to pass, Jamie reluctantly made a nest, holding fast to her new boots, and waited it out.


Finally, after lunch the voltage on the fence was high enough to give them access to Young’s Hill. Jamie immediately had J.B. put on some boots and they set off for a perimeter walk. While Jamie and J.B. were busy walking, everyone else (well, except Negra who chose to take an after lunch nap) raced out onto the hill to enjoy the brief break in weather.

Missy, being Missy, made several laps up and down, and back and forth, only stopping to occasionally check out the view:


But it wouldn’t be long before she was off to race across the hill, or chase her friend, Annie, again:


Jody, marched out onto the hill with purpose, clearly on a mission. A mission to forage for a rather large piece of bamboo to bring back to enjoy in the comfort of her nest before the rain began again:


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Even Foxie felt adventurous and explored the platforms on her own. Well, not exactly on her own as she had Dora with her, of course.



While these moments captured seemingly simple joys for the chimpanzees that we as humans can relate to, there is no denying the countless ways in which chimpanzees experience the world and their lives just as we do. For me, I just consider us to be different cultures who still have distinctly similar thoughts, emotions, and desires. Who still want the same things in life. Just like all beings we share this planet with.

Chimpanzees Don’t Belong on Either Side of the Theater Screen

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

A story appeared recently in the Daily Mail and Good Morning America showing images and video of two young chimpanzees, Vali and Sugriva, going to the theater with their “handlers” and watching the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The irony is that the two young chimpanzees were exploited for this publicity stunt, and brought into a theater to watch a movie that purposefully avoided using live ape actors… (Read more on Care2)

Angel was kept in a Hollywood training facility and routinely beaten and abused into submission by her trainers. She displayed a toothy grin—called a fear grimace—just at the sight of a camera. Angel was rescued by the Center for Great Apes as part of a legal suit against her former trainer.

Angel was kept in a Hollywood training facility and routinely beaten and abused into submission by her trainers. She displayed a toothy grin—called a fear grimace—just at the sight of a camera. Angel was rescued by the Center for Great Apes as part of a legal suit against her former trainer.

For more on the training facility Vali and Sugriva live at, visit our trainer page on Eyes on Apes.

Thank you to Care2 for posting our op-ed on this issue! Please share the article with your friends and get the word out that chimpanzees do not belong on either side of the theater screen.

Paper bag day

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

First off—today is the Doggie and Troll Olympics! The games are currently underway and although I wish I could be there to enjoy all the fun, Katelyn, myself, and volunteers Connie and Annie are here with the chimps having fun of our own. (If you weren’t able to join the games today, consider making a donation in Foxie’s honor—the troll games, after all, are about Foxie’s love of troll dolls and an early celebration of her August 8th birthday!)

We’re always trying to come up with interesting enrichment themes for the chimps. The other day I noticed how many paper shopping bags we had collected and thought it would be fun to fill them with enrichment and seal them closed so the chimps would have to open them like presents.

Jamie, of course, loved that project—but to my surprise, Burrito found paper bag day to be a big hit! He used them to display with, which is very helpful if you’re a male chimpanzee. And then he methodically went through one bag, but by the time I grabbed the camera, he had emptied it and was using it as a pillow. Who knew paper shopping bags could have so many uses!


Jamie playing

Friday, July 18th, 2014

We’ve often described Jamie as a complicated chimpanzee. She seems to identify more with the humans than with being a chimpanzee, but at the same time, she’s very socially manipulative and runs the show around here. As the boss, there’s no doubt she always has a lot on her mind. Most of the time, Jamie is pretty serious about things, even when she’s playing with the humans. She will ask to groom our shoes or wrists, play chase, or walk around the hill—and we will usually get a head nod from her as acknowledgement that she’s happy about that moment, but rarely does she laugh when playing with humans. Foxie, however, seems to be the one individual who can really get Jamie to be silly. The other chimpanzees are occasionally able to get Jamie’s silly side out, but not as much as Foxie.

The other day I posted the first part of this video on our Instagram account—if you’re not following us there, you should be! Today I got Foxie and Jamie playing again and laughing pretty hard. It wasn’t long before Jamie caught me, the paparazzi, and shifted her attention away. She looked toward my boot so I played a little tickle game. You’ll be able to see her briefly head nod, but not laugh the way she does when she’s wrestling with Foxie.

I’ve always found it interesting that though Jamie is very human-oriented, she seems to really only let her guard down when playing with other chimpanzees. Jamie is certainly an interesting and complicated chimpanzee, but we love her all the more for it.

Guy time

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

For whatever reason, the chimpanzee caregiver field is largely dominated by women. All of the staff here at CSNW at one point or another were students, interns, and/or staff at the former Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, where we all learned the ropes of chimpanzee husbandry. In my tenure there, I would estimate it was about a 5:1 ratio of women to men!

At CSNW, we’ve had a handful of men volunteer in the chimp house, and several more that have helped in other ways—groundskeeping and outdoor projects, fundraising, event help, etc. But up until recently, the only men that have been direct caregivers are co-director J.B. and our founder, Keith.

Well, Joel broke a new record in our sixth year of sanctuary and became the very first male volunteer caregiver. Though all the chimpanzees enjoy new friendships, Burrito is especially excited. As you can imagine, living with a group of girls and being taken care of by a group of girls makes guy time all the more valuable!


Don’t worry—J.B. and Keith are still Burrito’s pals, as well as all his female caregivers, too! One of the things we emphasize during our caregiver training is the importance of building a strong relationship based on trust, and we divide our time between all the chimpanzees to avoid fostering any “favorites.” But, just like humans, some personalities click differently and that is totally fine. Burrito seems to really click with his new buddy, which makes all the primates here pretty happy.

Today is for Ned and Noreen O’Flaherty

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Today was sponsored by Joan O’Flaherty in memory of her parents, Ned and Noreen O’Flaherty, and their anniversary. Ned and Noreen shared a great love for animals, as well as environmental and conservation issues and Joan feels they would have loved the chimpanzees. Joan, we are so touched and honored that you choose to remember your parents and what they held dear by helping the chimpanzees. Thank you so much for thinking of the chimps in such a special way!

Best friends, Missy and Annie:

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What sanctuary means to Jamie

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Sometimes it’s hard not to look at the chimpanzees through our sorrow. We’ve spoken often here on the blog about what each of the chimpanzees have lost and endured. The ghosts of themselves they were when they first arrived. For me while Jamie’s “before sanctuary” photo is one of the most difficult to look at, I have always thought that her indomitable spirit can still clearly be seen in her eyes. Despite all she had been through, her strength and completeness was still there. But I sometimes think that in our intent to be compassionate, we must be cautious not to risk doing the chimpanzees a great disservice by seeing them only through the sometimes tragic circumstances of their lives.

There is no doubt that with each passing day in sanctuary we are able to see the chimpanzees becoming more and more their chimpanzee selves. As their stress, fear and anxieties fade into the background, their personalities are materializing in front of our eyes. Something I am learning to do more and more is not to hold each of the chimps to behaviors I have come to expect. I want to hold the space for them to grow and change in their own time and space. Provided with choices, an enriching environment, and a healthy, loving home, every day they show us another facet of themselves. And earlier this week Jamie gave us a perfect example of what sanctuary makes possible.

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Typically the chimpanzees’ evening routine involves dinner being served at 4:30 while the playroom is closed for evening spot cleaning. We put out additional blankets for nesting and a food puzzle for evening enrichment. We then return access to the playroom so the chimps can enjoy their enrichment while Young’s Hill is closed off for the evening. The chimpanzees know the routine and normally and are more than ready to come in and start building their nests for the night. Usually by the time we leave, the chimps are in bed and if we’re lucky, offering nest grunts to us as we say goodnight and leave for the day at 5:30.

But a couple of nights ago, Jamie had other plans. It was a beautiful summer evening and she made it very clear that she was not ready for the door to Young’s Hill to be closed. And so it wasn’t. All the other chimpanzees were enjoying their evening enrichment and preparing their nests. But Jamie decided we should walk. And so we did. Caregiver Lisa and I took turns walking the perimeter of the hill with her again and again. At 8:00 J.B. and Diana (on their day off) came up to relieve us and wait for Jamie to decide she was ready to come in for the night. Occasionally, a few of the other chimps would get up to see what was happening or step onto the hill. Annie eventually built a nest in the greenhouse seemingly wanting to wait for Jamie to come in. Jamie finally decided she was ready for bed at 9:15.


While some people may not appreciate staying after work I think I speak for us all when I say I cannot think of anything that makes me feel as happy and privileged to do than to be able to provide the chimpanzees these choices. After all, isn’t that what sanctuary is all about? Loving them means respecting them and listening to them as the already complete individuals, with their own purposes, that they are.

In the well known words of naturalist Henry Beston, “For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”

I Spy

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Lisa got some pictures of Burrito spying on her from the greenhouse into where she was standing in the front room area, and again from behind the ladder in the greenhouse. It amazes me how anyone could be quite so charming just by shyly spying on you.