Posts Tagged ‘Animal Welfare’

Happy Birthday, Meg!

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by the chimps’ good friend, Meg Lunnum! Meg has been a long-time supporter of the chimpanzees and their sanctuary home and she shared this message about today:

“Today is my birthday and my birthday wish is for the chimpanzees to have new roommates. I understand this is a real possibility and I am so excited.”

Meg, thank you so much for thinking of the chimpanzees today and always! We have such an exciting year ahead as we begin to move forward with our plans for expanding the sanctuary and the chimps’ family. How very special it is to have you as part of our sanctuary family as we watch the chimps’ lives grow in so many wonderful ways. Thank you so much for recognizing and honoring them, and all animals, as the amazing individuals they are. All of us here at the sanctuary send you Happy Birthday hoots!! We’re so glad you are in the world!

Your pal, Queen Neggie:




Nap Time

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

I love taking photos and video of the chimpanzees running around, being active, and getting into mischief. Active chimpanzees are generally happy chimpanzees, and when I watch them explore and run I think of all of the years they lived in small cages.

There’s also something incredible, though, about watching the chimps truly relax.

Today the sun is streaming into the playroom and seems to be making Jamie and Negra very sleepy.

Jamie, in typical Jamie fashion, is curled up in her nest with boots and toys:

Jamie sleepy

Jamie in her nest


Of course, being Jamie, this nap is not going to last very long:

Jamie eyes open close up


Negra is in her spot on the catwalk of the playroom in front of the window – feet up in the air:

Negra sleeping


Doesn’t this just make you want to join them in relaxing in the sun?

Negra resting

Bold Adventurers

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

Jody, ever the forager, harvested some big handfuls of snow this morning:

Jody walking with snow

Jody holding snow 2


This is determination:

Jody holding snow 1


Meanwhile, Jamie was passing Missy on a structure:

Jamie and Missy


It looks like they are hatching some sort of secret plan:

Jamie passing Missy


Or maybe Jamie always looks like she’s cooking up something:

Jamie on structure

Jamie background of snow


Encouraged by these bold adventurers, the humans (me + Anna, J.B., and interns Courtney and Anthony) headed onto the hill (with the chimps safely indoors) and plowed and shoveled some more pathways.


Missy chose a high vantage point:

Missy top of cabin


While Jamie immediately checked out the new trail:

Jamie in snow

Jamie disappearing


Annie chose to collect some more snow and call it a day:

Annie snow in mouth

Annie following Missy


Negra was likely keeping herself cozy indoors:

Negra under blankets Negra in front of window


And Burrito and Foxie (sorry, no photos of them today), took quick forays to get snow snacks. All in all, a very nice day at the sanctuary.


P.S. The buoy / boat bumper ball lives on! Kathleen and Sherry’s predictions were better than some of us who thought it would be deflated by now.


20 snapshots of the day

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

I probably could never quite explain how ecstatic we all were to wake up to sunshine and beautiful clear blue skies this morning. We couldn’t wait to start shoveling the chimps’ walkway on Young’s Hill and fluff it up with fresh, dry straw so that they could enjoy their morning outside.

As we prepped the walkway the chimpanzees were so excited, intermittently watching us and playing and laughing with one another inside.


Once I opened the door to the hill I couldn’t believe my eyes when who but Negra was leading the group outside! You can just see her head peeking out from in front of Missy at the head of the line. Then we have Annie, Foxie and Jamie bringing up the rear with one of her new snow shovels (Burrito was the one person who opted to stay inside and eat snow from the raceway door, but he’s been enjoying a day of Burrito-style antics with his caregivers):



I put a straw path up to one of the swinging tires, always a favorite spot to check for ice treats. Jody headed straight for it and quickly made her way back to the greenhouse with her prize. The trick was getting around boss lady, Jamie, with her treat undetected.


But the boss had work to do so Jody was able to sneak by.




Annie enjoying her solitude:


But she was so happy when her best friend, Missy, arrived and greeted her with a kiss and a hug:



Foxie rubs her toes together when she’s happy and content and if you look close you can see she seemed to be pretty pleased to be enjoying the morning outside with her troll:


Jamie was in her element this morning as she proudly surveyed her snow covered kingdom:




Foxie and troll headed back inside after stopping to collect snow on the way:




Annie was the last to head inside, but had to stop briefly to readjust her huge mouthful of snow:



Jamie still had a little work to do:


Negra didn’t stay out long, but she made it quite away out to collect snow and then returned to her favorite sunny spot inside the greenhouse to enjoy it, along with Jody.


It’s been a good day at the sanctuary! The chimpanzees have spent a lot of time outside enjoying some warmer temperatures and even more time at the top of the toasty greenhouse grooming and napping. Blue skies and sunshine have worked wonders and been a welcome respite from our crazy winter for all the primates here today.

Happy Birthday, Shelly!

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Michael Horton in honor of his sister, Shelly Horton, on her birthday! Michael shared this wonderful message about today:

“My sister is the biggest chimpanzee fan in the world. In lieu of pursuing a career in Primatology, which is something she always wanted and still wants, she chose to become a teacher so 10-year-olds across our community will always be aware of the plight of the chimpanzee.”

In having the good fortune of getting to know Shelly as one of our incredible supporters, it’s been so wonderful to learn of her long-time love and respect for chimpanzees. Through her dedication and passion to help bring awareness to the issues chimpanzees face, she helps inspire her daughter and students so that they might feel empowered to make a difference in the world around them. What an incredible gift to give, not only for the chimpanzees, but for a young generation that the future of chimpanzees will depend upon.

Michael, thank you so much for celebrating Shelly by making the chimps’ lives better! We appreciate all that you and your family do for them and are thrilled to honor Shelly here today!

Shelly, thank you for all the support you, Lainey, and your students have shown the chimpanzees, we so appreciate all that you do! Never underestimate the ripple effect your compassion will have in the world. All of the primates here at CSNW wish you the best birthday yet surrounded by all that makes your heart happy!! And to start your day off, we’re sharing photos of people in your life who I know do just that:

Shelly’s adorable daughter, Lainey, with her impressive stuffed primate collection, begun by her mom:


We recently shared copies of “A Chimpanzee Tale” by Karen Young with Shelly’s amazing 5th grade students in Texas. They made the chimpanzees a beautifully detailed Christmas tree and birthday cards for Burrito in celebration of his recent 33rd birthday! We so appreciate the care and interest these children show for the chimpanzees and are thrilled to see them making a difference in the chimps’ lives as they learn about the amazing beings we share the earth with.


And of course, Shelly’s handsome pal, Burrito:


Chimpanzee Strength

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

Chimpanzees are naturally incredibly strong. This physical strength, combined with their tendency towards sudden aggression that J.B. touched on in his blog post yesterday, cautions humans who work around chimpanzees to be very, very careful. This is why when you do a quick internet search on “chimpanzee muscle strength,” the resulting articles are often tied to a report on a human who was attacked by a chimpanzee.

The text of this article from 2012 after an attack is particularly helpful in providing information about why chimpanzees are so strong, explaining that the muscle fibers closest to the bones are much longer and more dense in chimpanzees than humans, presumably making those muscles much more powerful.

When the chimpanzees arrived at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in 2008, their muscles were atrophied or had never fully developed from lack of use, but all of the chimpanzees were still stronger (in many ways) than any of us humans could ever hope to be.

Jody Before

Jody on the day she arrived at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest

I often wonder what it felt like to use those muscles exploring their new sanctuary home. To feel them engage while running and climbing and displaying, and then to feel their strength building over time.

chimpanzees climbing


It must have felt both strange and exhilarating.


Here’s a tribute to respecting chimpanzee strength with some muscle shots of each of the chimpanzees at the sanctuary:


Annie’s shoulders:

Annie walking


We got a clear  view of Burrito’s chest muscles after he was shaved for his medical exam this past summer:

Burrito bare chest


Even petite Foxie has incredible upper body strength:

Foxie close-up arm muscles


Hanging like this doesn’t take much effort at all by Jamie:

Jamie hanging


Jody’s certainly not the most athletic chimpanzee, but, when motivated, she uses those muscles to get her where she wants to go:

Jody climbing


Same with Negra – she doesn’t tend to exert any more energy than necessary, but she’s pretty buff even under her more “squishy” parts:

Negra arm

Negra climbing


And then there’s Missy, who uses her muscles, particularly her strong legs, as often as she can:

Missy tightrope

Missy's leg

Boat Bumper Ball Antics

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

One of the first nearly chimp-proof enrichment items the chimpanzees had after arriving to the sanctuary was a “boat bumper” donated by long-time supporter Kathy Benson, who found it at a garage sale.

Below is a photo of Annie (yawning) holding the toy. This was taken in July of 2008, less than a month after the chimpanzees arrived.

Annie with boat bumper


Recently, I searched on amazon for the same thing, remembering how much fun it had been for the chimps all those years ago. It turns out the big ones are fairly expensive, and I didn’t know if it would last as long, so I opted to get a small version and see how things went…


I do like how portable this version is –

MIssy carrying boat bumper

but given Jamie and Missy’s keen interest in “opening” the ball, I’m not sure how long it will last. What do you think?

Jamie the Merciful

Monday, January 11th, 2016

We take a lot of photos and video around here, but Jamie isn’t always a fan of the camera. Sometimes she’ll be clear across the room, and as soon as she spots a caregiver with the camera she charges over and pounds on the caging to let us know to cut it out. If you’ve ever had an adult chimpanzee charge toward you, hair standing on end (even if there’s caging between you), you’ll know why we respect her wishes. She gets her message across loud and clear.

But sometimes Jamie’s in a tolerant mood. At times she even enjoys the camera; she likes for us to turn the camera around and show her what we’ve captured. Today she allowed me to record her building a nest in the playroom. She even gave me her patented head nod of approval (watch to the end).

The Winter’s Calm for One Chimpanzee

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

I think that of all of the seven chimpanzees at the sanctuary, Annie could be described as most like a poet. She can frequently be seen in serene moments by herself, seemingly lost in thought.

Today, while I was busy filming Missy in the greenhouse, I realized that Annie had been outside for quite some time alone, so I ventured into the snow to see what she was up to.

To highlight her inner poetic nature, I found this poem to pair with the photos of Annie below:

Winter is the slow-down
Winter is the search for self
Winter gives the silence you need to listen
Winter goes gray so you can see your own colors…
~Terri Guillemets


Annie snow background


Annie look away


Annie profile 2


Annie sit



Annie profile, arms crossed


Annie look camera


Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Excitement spreads fast in a chimpanzee group. All it takes is for one chimp to get excited or upset, and the whole group is on fire before you know what happened. The chimps respond to each other’s vocalizations even when they’re not in the same room. If someone starts pant hooting in the playroom, you can bet that someone will answer with a pant hoot of their own from the greenhouse. It makes sense that it would benefit a chimpanzee – maybe especially a captive chimpanzee – to be responsive to others’ emotions and moods. I know that if I lived in an enclosure with whirling dervish Burrito, I’d be on guard at the first sign that he was getting worked up.

Today shortly after we let the chimps back into the playroom after cleaning, there was a very brief and mild scuffle. You’ll see how quickly Jamie and Annie respond.