Posts Tagged ‘Animal Welfare’

Negra Unleashed

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

A few days ago was the five year anniversary of the chimpanzees going outside onto Young’s Hill for the first time. For many of the chimps, it was probably the first time they had ever been outside in their lives, and it took some adjustment.

Out of all the chimps at the sanctuary, Negra has probably had the hardest time adjusting. On her first day out, she accidentally touched the electric fence and received a shock. For someone who was already predisposed to feel some anxiety at being outdoors after decades in lab cages, this certainly didn’t help. For several months after that Negra refused to step foot outside. Eventually she decided to try again, but she wouldn’t venture far from the greenhouse, and at the first strange noise or gust of wind, she would run back inside with a fear grimace on her face.

This year has been a turning point for Negra. This spring she started hiking straight up to the top of the two-acre Young’s Hill with no apparent anxiety to enjoy some of the wild greens growing up there. Today we set up a lunch forage on the hill and Negra headed outside with the rest of the group, calm and confident.

Welcome NAPSA!

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Today was an exciting day! Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest had the honor of hosting some amazing passionate humans of the primate sanctuary community! This past week, the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) held their 2 day conference (this year in Tacoma, Washington). Sanctuary founders, directors, coordinators, caregivers and allies discussed a diverse number of topics such as the founding of primate sanctuaries, visitor policies and their effects, and compassion fatigue.

This morning, many of the conference attendees loaded onto a bus and made the drive to our sanctuary for a visit to the chimpanzees. We aren’t normally set up for larger group tours,so there were a few things that needed to be rearranged first..

We also set up a lunch tent for the humans to relax in.

Upon arrival, visitors split into smaller groups so they could eat lunch, get a look at some behind the scenes spaces, walk around Young’s Hill, and view the chimps enjoying multiple lunch forages.

Here, part of the group watches the chimps forage on Young’s Hill.

Negra and Annie during the forage:

Foxie and Dora:

After our visitors left, JB returned an important item to its rightful place next to the barn, and the chimpanzees continued to leisurely forage on this beautiful early fall day.

Thanks to all our visitors, volunteers, and staff for making today possible! Thanks also to NAPSA for arranging this fantastic 2016 workshop!


We Like What We Like

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

Jamie spent her childhood living in a human home, and like all chimps who begin their lives in human homes, she quickly grew too strong and unmanageable. Jamie was sold to a research lab when she was about nine years old, and spent the next 22 years in hepatitis vaccine trials and possibly other invasive studies.

Jamie is one of the lucky ones. When she was 31, she was “retired” from research and moved to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. Chimpanzees who have lived with and around humans often pick up human habits and interests – Jamie files her nails, ties knots, and loves (and sometimes wears) boots. Jamie is different from the chimpanzees you see behaving like humans in movies and on TV; those chimps are trained – brutally – to perform and are often duct-taped into their clothes. At the sanctuary, Jamie chooses the objects she likes from the various enrichment items we provide each day and she does what she wants with them: nests with them, plays with them, ignores them, destroys them, or wears them.

A few days ago we had a visitor whose beautiful boots Jamie was clearly obsessed with. In a moment of overwhelming generosity, our visitor left Jamie the boots she came in with and walked out of the sanctuary barefoot. Jamie couldn’t resist giving her new boots a test run.



An Imperfect Life

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

In Negra’s alternate life – the one she should have had – she was born in the wilds of Africa, enjoyed a long, lazy childhood by her mother’s side, spent her days traveling with her group, climbing trees, and playing with friends, and grew up to have and raise her own babies and grandbabies.

In Negra’s actual life, she was born in the wilds of Africa, captured as an infant – probably after watching her family shot to make her capture possible – and shipped to the United States to be used as a research subject. She spent her days alone in metal cages no larger than a bathroom stall and experienced the world through filters of boredom, fear, pain, and loneliness. She had three babies in a five year span, all of whom were taken away from her within days or hours of birth, never to be seen or touched again.

Negra was about 35 years old when she stepped out of her last lab cage and into her new home at the sanctuary. That was a little over eight years ago. I sometimes wonder if there is some equation to represent the value of sanctuary to Negra and the others. Does one day in sanctuary cancel out one day in the lab? We can only hope.

Negra shouldn’t be here. She deserved to be wild and free. But her lot in life was determined by forces out of her hands, and out of ours. All we can do, and what we must do, is infuse her imperfect life with as much love and warmth and joy and comfort (and blankets and peanuts and sunshine) as we can, and then root for her as she steps toward recovery.





Annie Bird’s Birthday

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

Today we celebrate Beautiful Annie’s birthday. For the breakfast party in the greenhouse, we chose to have a bird theme because of the bird noises that she, uniquely, makes when she is relaxing.

owl pinata


The theme turned tropical with coconut, watermelon (that’s tropical, right?), pineapple, and fruit smoothie. Plus some primate chow, which Annie is fond of:

coconut troll


Also included were headbands (on the decorative slinky below) because of Annie’s sense of fashion.



Her friend Francoise even sent a book from Canada for us to interact with Annie (I did, later in the day, but didn’t get any photos – we’ll continue to have fun with this book, I can tell – Foxie and Jamie were very interested in it too!)

bird book


Later in the day, for the lunch forage, we had some of Annie’s favorite foods: green onions, leeks, cattails, and romaine lettuce. And we included some roses from the garden, mini-peppers, and more primate chow.

food tray

treat rock


Let’s get down to the chimp pics. You decide if Annie enjoyed our efforts:

Annie with chow

Annie with coconut

Annie coconut lip


annie with green onion

annie with green onion

Annie with lettuce 2

Annie with lettuce 3

annie with lettuce 1

annie in grass 2

Annie in grass

annie checking in treat rock


Of course the other chimpanzees appreciated Annie’s celebration too.

Burrito on a mission to find more food:

Burrito foraging


The coconut was a special treat:

hand holding coconut



Foxie with coconut



Missy coconut



Negra with coconut



Jody with coconut


But there were plenty of other treats to enjoy throughout the day:


Negra foraging:

negra sit in grass


Jody with leeks:

jody leek


Missy with a mouthful of chow:

missy in the grass


Jamie’s hand getting the plate of food from under the tub:

Jamie's hand getting plate



Jamie with a leek and cattail:

jamie leek

jamie cattail


The day ended with more treats – baked sweet potatoes and beets:

Erin serving

Annie eating beets


Annie thanks everyone for making her 42nd birthday a day of celebrating her favorite things and honoring how much we love her!



On Patrol

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

One of the duties of dominant chimpanzees in the wild is to patrol the perimeter of their territories regularly to keep their group safe from intruders. Here at the sanctuary, Jamie leads the patrols. She’ll do it by herself if she has to, but she prefers to have a caregiver come along. Anywhere from a couple to a dozen times each day, Jamie and a human friend set off to systematically walk the perimeter of the two-acre Young’s Hill.

Today Grace, one of the chimps’ first volunteer caregivers at the sanctuary, returned for a visit after several years away. The last time Grace was here, the construction on Young’s Hill was not quite complete, so Jamie was eager for the opportunity to take a walk today with a beloved old friend. (Grace’s friend Colin, staff caregivers JB, Katelyn, and I, and Ellie the neighborhood elk went too.)

If you get motion sickness, you might want to skip this one. Otherwise, you’re invited to tag along on a stroll with this motley crew.

Labor Day Play

Monday, September 5th, 2016

This Labor Day, the Cle Elum Seven are celebrating by not laboring at all.

Happy Birthday, Angel!

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Althea and Ahmad Dani in honor of Negra’s daughter, Angel, on her birthday. Althea and Ahmad are wonderful friends to the Cle Elum 7 and take great care to learn about each one of the chimpanzees as the unique individuals they are, extending that to their children. They are great supporters of sanctuaries and Althea also volunteers at a local no-kill shelter, bringing joy, comfort and hope to the lives of many cats. Althea shared this message about today:

“Happy 31st Birthday, Angel! Angel is one of 3 children born to lovely Negra whose birthplace was a medical lab. Thankfully, in 2002 Angel and her brother Noah along with many other chimpanzees were rescued and now live in a sanctuary in Florida. They are safe, well cared for, loved and happy. Angel lives in a large family group with other chimpanzees that share her past. Angel is described as happy, feisty and flirty! She loves to eat and some of her favorite foods are fruit juice, primate chow and dried fruit. She loves to play outside in the sun and is usually the first one out of the door after a meal. Happy Birthday Precious Angel. You are every bit as lovely and courageous as your beautiful mother, Negra.” 

Althea and Ahmad, thank you so much for thinking of Angel today and for all that you do to bring comfort and joy to the lives of so many of our fellow animals. We so appreciate you taking the time to learn about each of the chimpanzees, their children, their histories and the many aspects of their day to day lives. They are fortunate to have you as friends.

Angel, we wish you the happiest, most joyful of birthdays filled with all that makes your heart happy! We are so very grateful that for all your days forward you will be cared for with love and respect for the special person you are, just as your beloved mother, Negra, will be.

Beautiful Angel (photo courtesy of Save the Chimps):

Angel from Save the Chimps

Beautiful Negra:


Learn more about Negra’s, and each of the chimpanzees’ histories, on our Eyes on Apes page!

Happy Birthday, Karen!

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by the chimps’ (and humans’!) good friend, Ross Barde, in honor of his wife, Karen, on her birthday! Ross and Karen always have the chimps in their hearts and do so much to help ensure they have the best lives possible here at the sanctuary. Thanks to their generosity of gifting us with a heavy duty washer and dryer when our last pair went kaput, the chimps’ stay cozy in epic nests built with the 70 fresh blankets we give them every day. And as a chimp house volunteer, Ross even helps fold all of those blankets when he’s here!

Ross, thank you so much for including the chimps in such a special day with your family. We are so grateful to you and Karen for all you do to make their lives better.

Karen, all of us here at the sanctuary wish you the happiest birthday yet! We hope your day and your heart are full of all that brings you joy and love. Happy Birthday hoots from the chimps! And here’s Burrito throwing out some of best moves in the charm department:



And not one to be outdone in that area, here’s Foxie:

Foxie side glance