Posts Tagged ‘Animal Welfare’

A Strawberry Solstice

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

One of the chimpanzees’ favorite summertime happenings is their garden. Volunteer caregiver, Denice, and staff caregiver, Keri, are the driving forces behind this beautiful project each year. It not only helps us supplement the chimpanzees’ food supply, but it provides them with enrichment while adding beauty to their home.

As soon as the weather turned warmer this year the chimpanzees immediately started looking out the windows of the playroom to see if the garden had magically appeared overnight. Once things start growing we get to harvest fresh fruit and vegetables for them almost daily and they LOVE getting to choose what they would like and have their caregivers hand it to them straight from the garden!


With our first full day of summer arriving yesterday in conjunction with the stunning full Strawberry Moon last night, I thought it only appropriate to have a small strawberry feast this afternoon to celebrate. Volunteer caregiver, Ally, picked through the chimps’ strawberry patch as they watched from the greenhouse and then served everyone the fresh berries, still warm from the (official!) summer sun.


Burrito and Jody watch Ally in the distance. The entire time, Annie was banging her feet on the caging and Foxie was blowing raspberries to hurry Ally along with the strawberry picking:












Missy decided to wait down by the onion patch, but she was happy for a handful of strawberries:

web_missy_handful_of strawberries_window_kd_IMG_3731

And Queen Negra opted to avoid all the excitement in the greenhouse and wait it out in the comfort of her nest until I hand delivered some strawberries to her. She climbed down from her nest at Negra-style warp speed and though she was not interested in having her photo taken, she enjoyed her strawberries in peace with a view of the flower garden.


Year Eight

Monday, June 20th, 2016

We hope that you have been enlightened, entertained, and inspired by the musings on years’ past this week. Today’s final post in the looking-back brings us from June 2015 to last week, the eighth anniversary of the arrival of the Cle Elum Seven to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest.

The chimps’ eighth year began with a true test of our medical clinic. Burrito spent some time in the clinic twice after breaking a canine tooth. The first was an exam to determine the extent of his previously-diagnosed congestive heart failure and to assess the broken tooth, and the second was the tooth (make that teeth) extraction procedure.

Burrito tooth extraction

The chimpanzees are so fortunate to have such good human friends in their corner, who always go out of their way to ensure that they have the best care possible, and Burrito was in the hands of a large huge team of veterinary professionals who donated their time and skills to see Burrito through his procedures without a hitch.

Dare I say he’s even cuter with his missing teeth?



Dora the Explorer and friends were making frequent appearances with Foxie last year, and she seemed to show a particular fondness for the jaunty and clearly extra-adventurous France Dora:



and Dora’s fiery-haired friend Kate:

a flair for the dramatic


Troll dolls have not been replaced, though! They continued to be a favorite enrichment item for Foxie, with some of the other chimps seeming to adopt the trend:


Negra with a troll doll


Jody with a troll doll


Last summer, J.B. put together another of my favorite videos of the last eight years – the epic Troll Scarf Tug O War:


While the chimpanzees continue to make the most out of the ever-expanding life in sanctuary…





Jamie at the top of Twister


…the humans have been working hard “behind the scenes” to secure their future and work towards giving more chimpanzees a sanctuary life. The community of donors and volunteers came together and made it possible to purchase the sanctuary property that we had been leasing, acquire new land that tripled the total sanctuary footprint, and enter into an agreement to provide a home for chimpanzees coming out of biomedical research.

And, on a national scale, there was huge news as invasive biomedical research on chimpanzees came to a halt.

Just think about what the next eight years will bring!

Today is for David!

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Our third generous sponsor for today is Jeanette Gann whose gift is in honor of David Gann! Jeanette, thank you so much for thinking of the chimpanzees as you honor David today! This is such a compassionate gift and we are grateful for the difference you make in the chimps’ lives, helping to ensure that all their days are ones of peace, serenity, joy and love. And your gift comes at such an important time when you are not only helping to guarantee a home of sanctuary for these seven amazing chimpanzees, but for other chimpanzees in need who are awaiting their new life in sanctuary.

David, we hope your day is filled with all the good things, just as you’ve helped provide for the chimpanzees today! Have an amazing day!!

This wonderful guy, Burrito:




A Big, Joyful Day

Monday, June 13th, 2016

We have a lot to celebrate today! Negra is turning 43, and it has been eight years to the day since the Cle Elum Seven stepped off the transport trailer and into their new home at the sanctuary. (If you haven’t already, check out Diana’s thoughts in this morning’s blog post here.) I think these photos from today’s celebration paint a pretty good picture.

























Jamie had an especially good day. At this year’s Hoot! gala, we auctioned off two pairs of fabulous white cowboy boots, procured and donated by auctioneer and friend of the sanctuary Laura Michalek. Maryam Salt, the winning bidder, is now the proud owner of one of the pairs, while the other is for Jamie, our resident boot enthusiast. Jamie was beyond thrilled when we presented her with this gift today. Thanks so much to Laura and Maryam!



As for the birthday girl, she has had a pretty perfect day. She partied hard:



Then rested up afterwards:



And later explored her wilderness:



Year One

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Today marks the eighth anniversary of the arrival of the Cle Elum Seven chimpanzees–Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy, and Negra–to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest and a celebration of Negra’s 43rd birthday.

It’s so hard for me to believe that eight years have already passed since the chimps’ arrival, and it’s even harder for me to believe that Negra is eight years older than she was when the truck full of chimpanzees pulled up the sanctuary driveway on June 13, 2008.

truck pulling up driveway with chimps

Negra in transport cage

Because this is such a nostalgic time for everyone who has been following the story of the chimpanzees at the sanctuary, and because so many people are relatively new followers, I thought it would be fun and informative to take this week to briefly chronicle some of the events of the last eight years, one year per day.

Of course I know you won’t want to miss the news of today’s big celebration, so we will be sharing that later today on the blog too. If you are subscribed to the e-newsletter, you will also be receiving an email today that celebrates Negra’s journey over the last eight years.

For now, here’s a glimpse of the first year of sanctuary for the Cle Elum Seven.


EVERYTHING was new to the chimpanzees.


From enrichment:



To the views out the windows:


To the changes in weather:


Rainstorm bravery

Missy standing in doorway


Let it snow!

Annie eating snow, Jamie and Negra in doorway


And the chimpanzees were new to us humans, too. Though we had met them at Buckshire before they came to the sanctuary, we didn’t have the chance to really get to know them until we spent time with them in their new home. We started to learn about their personalities and their likes and dislikes pretty quickly.

Here is one observation about Jamie and her intelligence a few days after the chimps arrived:

Learning about Jamie


And of course the humans, and Foxie herself, discovered her lasting love of troll dolls during her first year of sanctuary, leading us to ask supporters for more troll dolls. None of us knew then how big her collection would become!

Foxie with Troll and night time package


Foxie’s first troll doll:

Foxie and Trixie


Foxie demonstrating that troll dolls suit her fun-loving personality:



We were delighted to discover Burrito’s out-of-this-world food-squeaking:


Touched by Annie’s love of Missy:

Annie grooming Missy

Missy and Annie with big playfaces

Missy and Annie with big playfaces


And thrilled with Jody’s ability to relax:

Jody on Valentine's Day, just holding her feet



Every day of the chimps’ first year in sanctuary was an incredible gift.

I’m not going to lie–we had some tough times as an organization as we were just getting our footing. There were stressful moments, to be sure, but it was so inspiring to have the opportunity to watch the chimpanzees learn more about their new home and themselves. And it was incredible to connect with other people who wanted to be a part of giving them that chance. This blog has played a big role in that process, and I’m grateful to everyone who has read it in the past and is reading it right now. Thank you!

It’s pretty thrilling to think that if you stick around you will also be a part of providing so many “firsts” for more chimpanzees who will be coming to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in the future.


Introducing the Database of Chimpanzee Enrichment!

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

The unfortunate reality for all chimpanzees that face captivity (even ones in a high-quality sanctuary) is that captive life can be boring. Chimpanzees are highly intelligent and active primates, and the truth is that no enclosure could possibly replicate the constant changes and choices that free-living situations provide. Another unfortunate reality is chimpanzees that have grown up in captivity cannot be returned safely to the wild where they belong. It is for this reason that sanctuaries exist, to give captive chimpanzees as many choices and enhancements in their lives as possible, while still keeping them safe, so that they can enjoy their lives in peace and comfort.

Caregivers at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest are always working towards improving the quality of physical and psychological stimuli that we have to offer the Cle Elum 7. We provide a variety of environmental enrichment to challenge their bodies and minds and we are always looking for more ideas. Today we wanted to announce our newest foray into the world of enrichment project sharing, the Database of Chimpanzee Enrichment!

Several months ago we started building a database tool for chimpanzee caregivers around the world to be able to browse our enrichment activities. However, simply compiling and sharing our ideas is not the end of the road! Not only will online visitors be able to see and learn about the types of enrichment that CSNW uses, but we also hope to be able to learn from and share the enrichment of other facilities over time. We have a couple of guidelines for submitting enrichment ideas to us so please visit this link if you are interested in contributing.

Everyone should feel free to peruse this database at their leisure, adding comments or questions at the bottom of each enrichment post. Please also share this blog post on social media to help get the word out! Hopefully, this collaborative effort will lead to an open dialogue about enrichment and help enhance and improve the lives of captive chimpanzees everywhere.

So without further adieu, we bring you the Database of Chimpanzee Enrichment!

You can also find it by visiting our website and scrolling over the About Us tab or typing into your address bar.

Happy browsing!



Monday, June 6th, 2016

We’ve been asked how the chimpanzees keep their nails short. For most of them, it’s the result of normal wear and tear, but Jamie has her own technique.

Today we remember Robert Ruggeri

Monday, June 6th, 2016

This special day of sanctuary was sponsored by the chimpanzees’ good friend, Rachel Ruggeri, in memory of her father, Robert Ruggeri. Rachel shared this wonderful message about today:

“My father loved animals and always believed freedom was preferable to security…for all creatures. He would have been proud to see the gang at Cle Elum find both their freedom and their happiness. Monday, June 6th would have been my father’s 80th birthday. In his honor, may the Cle Elum gang know freedom for the rest of their lives.”

Rachel we are so full of gratitude to you for all that you do for the chimpanzees – for providing them with the opportunity to live out their days with the freedom to be, and continue to discover, exactly who they are in each minute of the day. Freedom means different things to different people and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for providing them with a home in which they feel secure enough to be more courageous, joyful, and comfortable in their own skin, expanding far beyond any physical boundaries.

Robert must have been an amazing person and we are so happy to honor him today! All of us here at CSNW are wishing you a day filled with love, joy and comfort as you celebrate the memory of your father.





Foxie and Dora:










Annie and Missy:

Missy Annie running behind

Speaking on Captivity

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

Captivity. It’s been in the news a lot, and I know on a lot of our minds.

It is simply a fact of everyday life and work when your occupation is caring for chimpanzees in a sanctuary. We go to great lengths to ensure that the chimpanzees are unable to breach the barriers we have constructed to contain them, and while we do it for both their own safety and the safety of those on the other side of the barriers, it doesn’t change the reality of the situation–the steel caging, bullet-proof glass, electric fence, and many, many locks of which only the humans have the keys.

As a sanctuary, our aim is to attempt to right what we perceive to be a wrong and to give back some measure of what our species has taken from another species, but we don’t view this second chance for the chimpanzees living here as the ideal life, and our friends behind bars often remind us of this. A few years ago, I wrote about my perception of Jamie’s awareness of her own captivity in the context of the shift in how we as a society view what chimpanzees deserve and what our obligations are towards them. You can read that post here.

I am buoyed by the positive events that have occurred for chimpanzees just since writing that post three years ago. We are closer than ever – maybe we are even there – to the end of chimpanzee biomedical research in this country. How did we get here? How did we get to this moment in history where the practice of using chimpanzees in biomedical testing is widely seen as abhorrent from a society that thought it was entirely permissible and within our rights as humans to slaughter chimpanzee families, collect the infants, and ship them across the world to use them in experimentation? There are many specific answers to that question, but the general answer, I think, can be explained by a formula that applies to progress towards greater human rights as well: knowledge + people speaking out + time = societal shifts.

These shifts don’t happen overnight and they don’t happen without resistance. By definition, it takes the majority of people who held onto an “old way” of thinking to either no longer be a part of society or it takes individuals to change their own stance. We all know how stubborn our species is, so the former is often the key factor and is really built into the formula under “time.” But our modern age has given us the ability to gain information and collect knowledge in an instant, and we are quickly made aware of more people speaking out. This allows shifts to happen faster.

As uncomfortable and impassioned as some discussions can get around the practice of keeping great apes and other non-human animals in captivity, I choose to view it as very positive sign that these discussion are happening in a very public way. The proverbial and literal elephant in the room is being pointed out, making it almost impossible to ignore the bigger ethical questions of holding intelligent, highly social, long-lived species in captive environments, generation after generation. What truly justifies this activity?

The thing about societal shifts in thinking, though, is that when you’re in the middle of them, there will be individuals and institutions on both sides. Looking back at shifts that have happened in the past, it’s really difficult to understand how so many people were involved in something that is now viewed as unjust, but that’s the benefit of hindsight. There is no “new way” without an “old way” and the “old way” is something that the majority of people likely had few qualms about, but that doesn’t mean they had some sort of flaw in their character. I applaud the individuals and institutions that are at the forefront of rejecting old, unfair, and unjust ways of doing things, but I understand that some will invariable be slower to adjust–that’s all part of a shift.

Let’s keep talking. Let’s not be afraid of our convictions and our desire for a more just world. And let’s also remember that each of us have different levels of knowledge, exposure to different voices, and may have developed our opinions in a different period of time and societal-wide mentality than ourselves.

In the meantime, let’s be thankful, on behalf of seven chimpanzees in Cle Elum, Washington, that societies do indeed shift towards greater understanding and compassion, and it happens one person at a time. Though we are unable to give the chimpanzees true freedom, we can give them something closer to it than they’ve ever experienced before.


Here’s Missy and Annie enjoying the wild prickly lettuce that they harvested:

Missy eating prickly lettuce

Missy and Annie with prickly lettuce

Annie sitting on a log


Today is in memory of Ben and Jules

Monday, May 30th, 2016

This day of sanctuary was sponsored by Janet Carroll in memory of Ben and Jules. We are continually moved by the compassion and generosity our supporters bring into the chimps’ lives after they survived for so long in very different circumstances, even their existence unknown to most. And with Sponsor-a-Days in particular it’s so inspiring and touching to see that in peoples’ desire to make the chimps’ lives better, the chimps are also providing an opportunity to honor, remember and celebrate so many others. They’re rather like ambassadors of love and joy.

Janet, thank you so much for thinking of the chimpanzees in honoring the memory of Ben and Jules today! We’re very grateful to you for helping to provide the chimps with the care and home they are thriving in and we hope your day is filled with comfort and joy in your thoughts of Ben and Jules. We will all be thinking of you!

Good friends, Burrito and Foxie: