Posts Tagged ‘Animal Welfare’

Jamie the Fighter

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

I spend more time with the Cle Elum Seven chimpanzees than I do with most people in my life. I know them as the curious, playful, independent, opinionated individuals that sanctuary has allowed them to become.

I did not know Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy, and Negra in their former lives as lab subjects, when they were mere shadows of their current selves. I often wonder how the vibrant personalities I know so well survived decades of trauma, boredom, fear, and loss.

There’s little doubt that life in a research lab is nearly unbearable for any chimpanzee (or, one could argue, for any living, feeling creature). It’s not surprising that many of them give up. But many others make it out the other side, and are able to rediscover their sense of joy and wonder, and their fighting spirit.

Here at the sanctuary, Jamie epitomizes “fighting spirit.” Despite being one of the youngest chimps in the group, she has appointed herself leader, and she runs the show. She demands the utmost respect from both her chimp and human family, and she gets it. If she wants something, she doesn’t wait and hope – she makes it happen. She is brilliant, difficult, fierce, and exacting, and we could not love or admire her more.

Due to incomplete lab records, we don’t know Jamie’s date of birth, so we celebrate her each year on Halloween (in loving tribute to her endearingly wicked nature). Our Jamie-ween party is always completely over the top (as it should be). This year’s party promises to be no different. Be sure to check back tomorrow for photos and/or video from Jamie’s birthday party, and in the meantime, here are some of my favorite photos of Jamie from birthdays past:

Jamie looking through a Halloween gift bag

Jamie drinking juice with a straw

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Happy chickens, food, and thanks!

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

We have been very fortunate lately to receive some awesome food donations—Darwin pet food company has donated cases and cases of fresh produce the last few months which has certainly reduced our food bill every month! We are so appreciative, and so are the chimpanzees. Just check out one of the hauls:

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And here’s some of the celery they donated being enjoyed by Annie and Negra:
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And Missy snacking on a beet:
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Part of our food philosophy is that the chimps have a primarily plant-based diet, which is why we’re so thankful for the Darwin’s donations! Recently we thought about seeing if the chimps like eggs, which would be a great source of protein for them in addition to the nuts they already eat and protein powder in their morning smoothie. It just so happens that I’m the proud caretaker of a few happy chickens who roam around my house (which is seated on a large family farm just outside Ellensburg).

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I’ve always been thrilled to share the ladies’ eggs with friends and family, giving them the opportunity to have eggs from free-roaming chickens. So I decided to bring in some hard-boiled eggs for the chimps to see if they would like them! It turns out that they were no stranger to having eggs before. Though we expected that they would be weary of eating such a strange item, and it might take a few tastes to decide if they liked them or not, we were surprised to see their reaction—they definitely know what eggs are and they definitely like them. Negra was absolutely beside herself when she saw me walking out with the eggs, food squeaking with delight. The other chimpanzees quickly came over to get the exciting snack.

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Foxie, however, is not so sure about eggs. She’s always been more hesitant to try new things (even if she ends up loving those things eventually). The first time we served the eggs, Foxie sniffed it and tossed it to the ground. She then went around and watched everyone eating their egg to see what was so exciting about it. The second time we served them, I peeled one for Foxie (while everyone else was happy to receive their with the shell and peel them on their own) and she took a quick bite before dropping the other half on the ground. Annie was very pleased to pick up Foxie’s leftovers, and Foxie very intensely food peered while Annie ate her eggs. This very uncomfortable looking behavior is a common act in chimpanzee culture, and Foxie especially likes to food-peer. Perhaps after watching the other chimps happily eat their eggs twice now, the third time will be the charm for Foxie!

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Knowledge and Responsibility

Monday, October 27th, 2014

I’m often told how great it must be to have a job caring for chimpanzees and I have to agree. There are so many highlights of working at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. Of course, there are the chimpanzees, each with their own unique and inspiring qualities. And there are the incredibly compassionate and dedicated staff members, volunteers and donors that work on behalf of the Cle Elum Seven. Add in a beautiful setting and its the perfect job.

The truth is, I love my job, but I really wish it didn’t exist. The reality is there has to be chimpanzees in captivity for me to be a chimpanzee caretaker. But, chimpanzees do not belong in captivity. Period.

A past teacher of mine used to say “With knowledge comes responsibility”. I didn’t realize just how much those four words would mean until I started learning more about the fate of chimpanzees in the entertainment and biomedical industries and those kept as pets. Once I learned the fates of those chimpanzees, I stopped buying cards with pictures of chimpanzees “smiling” and I stopped watching movies with chimpanzees in them. But, I wanted to do more; I felt I had a responsibility to do more.

So, I am trying to do that, by helping to make captivity the best that it can possibly be for the chimpanzees of CSNW. This means respecting them as individuals, giving them choices, providing daily enrichment, sharing their stories and advocating for them and all apes.

These are the seven chimpanzees that I work for.

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Enjoying the Sunshine and the Tea Party

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

The chimpanzees were excited to make the most of the sunshine this morning by spending time on Young’s Hill. Jody was the first to venture outside, followed by Burrito, Jamie, Foxie, Missy and then Annie. Negra was close; she made it to the raceway that leads out to the hill, then sat down and looked outside.

Missy and Annie shared a few quiet minutes sitting together on top of the shaky bridge.

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As soon as Missy spotted Jamie, she jumped down from the bridge and ran after her. And then Jamie took turns running after Missy.

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And then Foxie joined Annie on the shaky bridge. (Annie is facing away from the camera)

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In the mean time, Negra sat quietly in the Greenhouse, near the raceway, alternating between looking outside and inspecting her hand.

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Jody gathered some bamboo before heading back to the greenhouse to relax and groom herself.

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Meanwhile, volunteers Erin and Jake set up a tea party for the chimpanzees in the Playroom for today’s “Tea Party” theme. Jamie was all about it. After drinking the tea, she inspected the inside of each cup; turning it upside down, sticking her fingers in the cup and then licking them. She gives meaning to the saying “Good to the last drop”

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And Burrito spent the better part of the rainy afternoon grooming his good friend Foxie.

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An afternoon on the hill

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Today after lunch I stepped outside to see what the chimpanzees were up to. I found Annie all alone on Young’s Hill, having a quiet moment.

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Considering Annie is the lowest chimp in the hierarchy, she’s looking awfully confident these days.

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A while later, boss Jamie (right) came outside and Annie offered her a submissive greeting.

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Eventually Missy came out, and she and Jamie started up the hill for a perimeter walk. But just when they were getting started, a brief scuffle broke out in the greenhouse and Jamie ran inside to sort things out.

After that bit of drama, the boss was ready for a nap.

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The relentless hawk

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

The hawk saga has continued this week and the chimps are still on high alert. Last week, J.B. posted about a hawk that caused the chimps to be somewhat apprehensive.

Here’s a couple shots of the hawk (we’re calling him Hank).

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Since Hank has been hanging out this whole week, the chimps are more used to his presence, but they are still very territorial. Today, Missy was still a little apprehensive and took cover inside the tunnel, and then ran back toward the safety of the chimp house. But Foxie, Jody, and Jamie were on patrol letting Hank know who’s in charge.

Missy emerging from the tunnel:
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Foxie, Jody, and Jamie on alert:
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And then on patrol to secure the rest of the territory:
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Jamie took one last look back to make sure Hank learned his lesson:
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It’s really great getting to see the chimps exhibit such a naturalistic behavior—patrolling the fence line and defending their home.

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More ways to help the chimps!

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

One of my favorite things about our gala auction (and online auction, too!) is that people who bid on items not only give generously to support the chimps, but they get a nice tangible item too. Win-win! There are many different ways to help support the chimps, from sponsoring a day of sanctuary to becoming a pal to one of the Cle Elum Seven, to participating in our fundraising events, and even just in your everyday shopping!

Awhile back we posted about how Amazon’s program AmazonSmile will donate a portion of sales from everyday things you shop for on Amazon to the sanctuary (read more on how to set that up here). We also have a program set up through Fred Meyer, a northwest one-stop-shop store, and a way to help the sanctuary when buying or selling on eBay through eBay Giving Works. You also can apply for a credit card that helps out the chimps! All win-win deals. Check all those options out on this page.

One new thing we added to that page was our connection with Cars 4 Causes, an organization which takes vehicles, gets them prepped for sale, auctions them off and then gives a chunk of the proceeds to the sanctuary! My family actually recently took advantage of this opportunity and donated our boat that I remember taking camping trips in as a child. It went up for auction and did really well—but unfortunately, the high bidder backed out last minute for financial reasons and so the boat is back up for auction. Seattle-area friends, please spread the word about this auction! And if you or anyone you know is thinking about getting rid of a vehicle, consider donating it to Cars 4 Causes to support CSNW.

Here’s some pictures of the chimps, as a reminder of who you are supporting with all these fun and unique ways to donate:

Annie
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Jamie
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Missy
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Foxie
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Rainy day

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Sometimes on a rainy day, all I want to do is cuddle up with a blanket or two and read a good book or even take a nap. That has not been the case for Jamie today. She has kept herself quite active with the help of volunteer caregiver Becca, despite the rain. She has already walked around Young’s Hill four times in between heavy rain periods. And when it did start raining harder, she took action right away and ran the rest of the way around the hill.

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When she was not walking around Young’s Hill, she was flipping through magazines and inspecting some of her boots. And she even allowed herself some down time to sit quietly.

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Chimp mothers

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

Yesterday was Negra’s son Noah’s birthday, and Save the Chimps posted a photo of the birthday boy which I shared today on our Facebook page. We’ve shared stories of Noah before (as well as Negra’s daughters Angel (also at Save the Chimps) and Heidi (she’s sadly still in a lab).

A question we almost always get is whether the chimps would recognize their kids should they ever have the chance to. For the kids that are no longer in labs (Negra’s kids Noah and Angel at Save the Chimps, Foxie’s daughter Angie at Save the Chimps, Jody’s kids Andrea, Bart, and Clay at Save the Chimps, Annie’s kids Mariah and Virgil at Save the Chimps and son Tobias at Chimp Haven, and Missy’s kids Josh and Honey B at Wildlife Waystation) that will likely never happen. It’s also not too likely that their kids who are still in labs would ever be reunited with them (Foxie’s kids Kelsey and David, Negra’s daughter Heidi, and Jody’s son Levi) because they are fully grown adults and it would be difficult to integrate them into our existing group.

But if at another sanctuary a mother were reunited with her children, would they recognize each other? My response to this question is usually simply: probably not. As is the case with most lab births, their babies were taken away from them within days (sometimes just hours) so the likelihood that they would recognize their fully grown children is pretty slim. I think of human births where the babies are given for adoption — would they recognize their biological child 20 years later? Probably not… but maybe. There have been stories of chimps being reunited with their mothers after being separated from each other very early on, who showed signs of recognizing each other. So, I guess the answer should be: probably not, but it is possible.

Here’s some recent photos of our chimp mothers:

Annie

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Foxie

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Jody

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Missy

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Negra

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We are grateful to the sanctuaries who are caring for the Cle Elum Seven’s children, and hope that one day soon Levi, Kelsey, David, Heidi, and the hundreds of other chimps still in labs will find a sanctuary to call home.

Jamie After Hours

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Jamie has been making the staff earn their keep this summer and fall. After the other chimpanzees have made their nests and settled down for the night, and just when it’s normally time for the caregivers to go home, Jamie decides she would like some more time outside. She takes walk after walk after walk around Young’s Hill, always requesting the company of a human friend. While her morning and afternoon perimeter walks are often all business, these evening walks are more leisurely. Jamie meanders and explores and stops to take in the view.

Despite the extra long days, we’re all happy to oblige. It’s nice to see Jamie making up for lost time.

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