Posts Tagged ‘Animal Welfare’


Sunday, April 19th, 2015

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.

Foxie the Brave

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

In the three and a half years since we opened Young’s Hill, the chimpanzees’ two-acre outdoor habitat, the chimps have become more and more comfortable with the wide open space it provides. It didn’t happen immediately for many of them. After living for thirty years in climate-controlled buildings, touching nothing but steel and concrete, it takes time to adjust to the feeling of wind through your hair, or hot sun on your back, or rain. Not to mention how vulnerable and exposed they must have felt in such a huge space – it wouldn’t have been surprising if one or more of the chimps decided not to venture out at all.

But they did go outside, and they have continued to go outside on most days since we first opened the hill. They have gradually become more at ease with things that they wouldn’t tolerate in the early days, like wind and rain and cold temperatures. Almost four years later, they’re still making strides.

In the last couple of weeks, Foxie has been pushing the boundaries of her own personal comfort zone and spending more time alone on Young’s Hill. Until recently, she has stayed near the bottom of the hill, closer to the familiar chimp house, during her excursions outside. The other day, though, I was on a perimeter walk with Jamie and we found Foxie all alone at the very top of the hill, calmly and methodically exploring. I thought she might be relieved to see us, and join us on our walk back down to the chimp house, but she remained up there by herself, walking around in the grass. There are certain moments when one of the chimps surprises you in the best way, and that was one of them.

Today really feels like spring in Cle Elum – warm temperatures and a pleasant breeze – so we set up a lunch forage on Young’s Hill. Foxie was one of the last ones to remain outside after the others had gone back into the greenhouse with their food.









Take Action Tuesday: Speak up for Eli chimpanzee

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

EOA take action tuesday

A few weeks ago, we alerted you to a new Comedy Central show called Big Time in Hollywood, FL, with reported footage of a chimpanzee in several scenes. We know now that chimpanzee is Eli, who lives at a training facility called Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife.

One of the actors from the show, Lenny Jacobson, identified Eli in an interview where he talked about the experience filming with a chimpanzee. He mentioned that the trainer on set was missing a finger from a chimpanzee bite—which isn’t shocking given the true nature of chimpanzees. Chimpanzees are very strong, and once they become too hard to manage, trainers will discard them at roadside zoos or pseudo-sanctuaries.


Eli’s trainer has a history of dumping former nonhuman ape actors at very decrepit facilities, including Walter, who was found kept in a dark, barren, concrete pit filled with garbage at a roadside zoo. Eli’s trainers also have repeatedly failed to meet minimal animal welfare standards. (

There’s still time to act—the episodes with Eli’s scenes have not aired yet. Please send a polite letter to the producers and to Lenny Jacobson letting them know that chimpanzees should not be used in entertainment. Not only are there numerous welfare concerns, but seeing chimpanzees dressed up in clothing and in physical contact with humans perpetuates the idea that they can be treated as pets.

Your letters do work! Another alert we sent out last month regarding a McDonald’s France commercial with Suzy (who lives with the same trainer as Eli) was pulled after they received feedback from Eyes on Apes supporters and other advocacy groups. Great victory! We hope to see Big Time in Hollywood, FL make the same progressive decision.

We’ve set up a sample letter which you can customize as you wish (click here). You may also post on the show’s Facebook page.

Missy now and then

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

I took this photo of Missy a few nights ago when she had joined Jamie for some “after hours” walking around the hill. I was trying to figure out why I love the photo so much (aside from the obvious cuteness of Missy from behind).

Missy bipedal from behind

Today, while on another walk, I think I figured it out – it reminds me of a photo we took a few months after the chimpanzees arrived during a big rainstorm. It was before there was a Young’s Hill and before there were greenhouse panels covering their original “outdoor area” that we now call the greenhouse. The outdoors and the elements were a whole new experience for all of the chimps, and, without the greenhouse roof that exists now, the rain was pouring into this area.

Chimpanzees don’t tend to appreciate getting wet, and all of the chimps stayed indoors for most of the storm, but curiosity soon got the best of Missy, Annie, and Jamie. Missy was first to look out the door into the still dripping outside world:

Missy in doorway during rainstorm

At the time, I remember how thrilled J.B. and I were that the chimpanzees were experiencing something brand new. We were thrilled that they were able to gather the courage to follow their curiosity. And we knew that this was  just one new experience in a whole line of new experiences they would be facing.

Still, I had no idea exactly what was to come into their lives, thanks to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest supporters. I had no idea that Missy would embrace the two-acre outdoor habitat that was just beginning to be a kernel of an idea for the future.

I had no idea that six and half years later, Missy would run with glee across the 2-acres everyday:

Missy running


Exploring her territory:

Missy walking



Satisfying her curiosity:

confident Missy walking

I can’t wait to see what Missy and her six friends get to experience next, and what the next six and a half years will bring to the sanctuary.



Jamie the walking machine

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

When Jamie first started her daily perimeter walks, it was usually just once or twice a day that she would ask us to accompany her (from the outside of the fence) around Young’s Hill. Now, it averages probably about seven to eight a day, maybe even more. She will ask each of her caregivers to go along at least once, but usually three or four times! She really has become a walking machine.

I think if the humans weren’t busy trying to clean enclosures, prepare enrichment and food, write the blog, and all the other things we do in a day—that Jamie would be asking to go on continuous walks non-stop. The other day, Elizabeth and I did a “walking relay” — I radioed her when Jamie and I were on our way down the hill so she could go wait at the gate (the starting point for these perimeter walks) with boot in tow. Jamie ran SO fast to meet up with Elizabeth and go on another walk!

It’s really awesome to see how excited she can be at times, because most of the time Jamie is all serious business. As Elizabeth mentioned yesterday, her moods can swing pretty wildly.

Here’s a couple recent pictures of Jamie on walks:




This one is from last fall, but I just love it.

Jamie looking awesome

The Circle of Caring

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

Our primary objectives as caregivers in a sanctuary is continuously improving the well being of those in our care and working to make the world a better place for all chimpanzees. We strive to provide what our tagline says: hope. love. home… sanctuary.

It doesn’t take long to realize that all of this just ends up circling back.

The chimpanzees give me hope everyday.

Sometimes the problems the world is facing seem insurmountable. Sometimes I just want to go back to sleep when I open my eyes in the morning and think of the work that lies ahead. But then there are these seven chimpanzees who lived for most of their lives with no reason for hope, yet they didn’t shut down.

Even Negra, who was ripped from her home and her family as a baby and used as a test tube for over three decades – she survived. And she can now lift her head to the sky and allow the rays of the sun to warm her face, or curl up under a blanket and sleep peacefully.

Negra eyes to sky

Negra under a blanket

Nothing gives me hope more than seeing the chimpanzees thrive at CSNW.

And then there’s love. After what humans have done to them, these chimpanzees should be angry. It would be completely justified for them to rise up Planet of the Apes style and never trust another human. Yet, surprisingly, they do show affection towards humans.

It’s easy to see that Foxie is happiest when she’s making someone else laugh or smile. She often spots me from a distance and runs over just to have a little playtime.

foxie with new trolls


Burrito too. Just this morning, in between his a.m. displaying, he was stomping his feet and running through the front rooms to get me to play chase.

Burrito play face

burrito bite fire hose


All the love I try to convey to the Seven just comes right back.


These misfit captive chimpanzees could melt the coldest of hearts.



Jamie hug stuffed animal

That brings us to home. The sanctuary provides J.B. and me with a physical home, but, far more significantly, the chimpanzees and the people that they bring into their lives through their sheer force of charm has created a more remarkable sense of home than I’ve ever experienced.

I really just can’t get over how amazing it is to be surrounded by such caring, compassionate, funny, and all-around lovely people that make up the staff, volunteers, and supporters. And that includes a lot of people who I’ve never even met in person. The Seven are really quite good at attracting the best people to be a part of their lives.

Sanctuary. It’s a word that is often misused, but it truly applies to this place. And, as I’ve learned, the spirit of true sanctuary is circular. Thank you for being a part of it.

Sweet Annie:


Adventurous Missy:

Missy leaping

Jody – taken this afternoon:

Jody with eyes closed




Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

As we’ve mentioned before, chimpanzees are very territorial and it’s within their nature to defend their home against strangers. In order to be intimidating, they will usually stand up on their legs, swagger, and their hair will stand on end (pilo-erect). Then, they usually bang something, vocalize, or otherwise make some sort of threatening noise. Threat displays are just that—displays. It’s all just to show how scary they could be, if you don’t watch out.

Sometimes, dominant chimpanzees want to show the others in their group that they could be pretty scary if they want to be. It helps solidify their role as the leader in the group—the intimidation aspect strengthens their control. A dominant chimpanzee will occasionally display their dominance with no provocation at all (or at least, nothing immediately observable).

Here’s a video of exactly that, a display just for the sake of displaying. It doesn’t mean that Jamie is angry or upset about anything, it’s just something she does to remind everyone (chimpanzees and humans) that she’s the boss around here.


Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Mornings at the sanctuary are a flurry of activity – the humans are busy cleaning the chimp house from top to bottom while the chimpanzees are playing with each other or outside exploring Young’s Hill. It’s not until early afternoon that we finally have a chance to sit down for a moment and regroup. It’s during this breather that we typically start thinking about what we’re going to post to the blog that day. Occasionally, we’ll catch the chimps doing something particularly interesting earlier in the morning, and we’ll stop cleaning for a second to run and grab the camera. But more often, our morning routine keeps us so busy that we don’t have time for paparazzi breaks, and it’s already one or two in the afternoon when we finally grab the camera and go see if the chimps are up to anything photo-worthy.

The problem with this routine is that early afternoon is siesta time, so we end up with a lot of photos of sleepy, lounging chimps.









Dinnertime lounging

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Yesterday during dinner, Jody decided to relax a little in between courses. She would go out to the greenhouse, get her serving, and then take it to the front rooms to enjoy her meal without any distractions.

Sometimes the chimpanzees prefer to eat with more privacy, and will take their servings off to their own corner. Part of that might be to avoid getting their food taken by someone more dominant (which is completely normal in chimp society) — but partially I think some chimps just enjoy eating away from the hub-bub of the meal.

Still, some chimps will park themselves in one spot during a meal and stay there until everything has been served. Just another example of how great it is that in sanctuary, they can choose how and where to spend their time.





In memory of Joseph and Carlene’s anniversary

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Joseph Garza, in memory of his late wife, Carlene, and this day, which would have been their 15th wedding anniversary. Joseph and Carlene have done so much for the chimpanzees and even though Carlene is no longer with us physically, both she and Joseph continue to make an immense difference in the chimps’ lives. Joseph shared this beautifully heartfelt message about today:

“On this date fifteen years ago, Carlene K. Olsen-Paul and I exchanged vows to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part. Little did we know that the latter would come much too soon.

She captured my heart with the first look into her eyes and at that moment I knew that I was looking into the soul of the love of my life. The Lord gave us almost 20 years together, 14 and one-half of those as husband and wife. They weren’t all easy, but I would give anything to have even the worst day back again just to hold her in my arms again.

Carlene K. Olsen-Garza, you are my soul mate and I know when my time comes you will be waiting for me and we will once again be reunited, but this time for eternity. Til then, I love you my angel.”

Joseph, thank you so much for sharing such a special day with not only the chimpanzees, but all of us. We are immensely moved that you not only continue to carry Carlene’s passion for the chimpanzees in your heart, but have made it your own as well. Our thoughts are with you today as you remember your dear wife and the beautiful life you shared.

Annie groom Missy in greenhouse