Posts Tagged ‘Animal Welfare’

For Zach the awesome nephew!

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by long-time friend of the chimps, Stephen Maluk, in honor of his nephew, Zach Plastaras. Stephen shared this message about today:

“Zach, often known simply as The Nephew, recently graduated from 6th grade and is kind to animals.”

Stephen, thank you so much for including the chimpanzees as you celebrate Zach, his accomplishments, and so importantly, his kind heart. We truly appreciate all you and your family do to help us care for these amazing beings.

Zach, congratulations on your graduation! Thank you so much for caring about animals! It’s people like you who the chimpanzees and other fellow animals of the world will depend on in the future to care, protect and honor them and we’re really grateful to you for being their friend. All of us at CSNW hope you have an awesome summer!


We wish we were as cool as Missy

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Missy is beautiful, kind, joyful, goofy, serious, independent, self-assured, and the most loyal of friends you could hope for; she’ll back you up no questions asked. Well, if you’re a chimp friend that is. When the humans have been deemed to have “wronged” one of her family members she is often the first to let us know and she will hurl her tiny self onto the caging in front of you with shocking force while repeatedly kicking it and threat barking in your face with all her might.

One of my favorite memories of Missy is a time when I was trying to serve her something and Jamie decided she didn’t want that to happen and let me know by hitting the caging and threat barking at me. Given that Jamie is the dominant chimp in this society, it’s her right to do so. Even though Missy had her hand out in anticipation, she immediately backed Jamie up and joined in threat barking at me, seemingly incensed that I had tried to do something so egregious. The second Jamie walked away though, Missy immediately asked for the item again (and gestured to be quick about it!) until Jamie caught sight of us and the whole scene played out again. Missy is brilliant at chimpanzee politics.

On nights that Jamie chooses to have the door to Young’s Hill remain open she will often seemingly employ Missy to guard the door while she goes inside to retrieve something she wants. Missy doesn’t usually have any interest in the door remaining open or not and is typically ready for bed, but don’t think you are going to close that door with her standing guard in the boss’s absence.

Honestly, Missy’s a bit of a thug. And we couldn’t love her more.

In other news, one of our volunteers, Jake, discovered the hit of the summer to come! It’s hot today and we were lamenting not having any ice to run through the chimps’ snow cone machine. The chimps have access to water all day, but we occasionally offer ice snacks to help keep them cool and hydrated. So Jake brilliantly decided to experiment with running frozen grapes and a touch of strawberries through the machine and it was an immense hit with chimps and humans alike! They literally melt in your mouth. Go immediately and buy yourselves snow cone machines and grapes to freeze!


Happy Birthday, Negra!

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Lucky June 13th. Today is one of the biggest and most special days of celebration at the sanctuary. Nine years ago today seven chimpanzees found themselves at the end of the road trip of a lifetime, having made their way across the country from a windowless basement in Pennsylvania and decades of use in biomedical research, to pulling up the driveway to a new life, a second chance, in their sanctuary home. A home that was created just for them. A home where every single thing that happens, where every single human who enters (in person or from afar) is to ensure their comfort, dignity, safety and well-being above all else for the rest of their lives.

And as such, this is also the day that was chosen as Negra’s honorary birthday because it’s the day her life was returned to her and her six chimpanzee friends. Today we are celebrating Negra’s 44th birthday!

To kick off the celebration, dear friends of the sanctuary and Negra’s pals, Althea and Ahmad Dani, are sponsoring this first of two days of sanctuary and shared this sweet message:

“Happy Birthday Negra! We’re wishing you the most beautiful and perfect day for the most beautiful and perfect girl! We love you very much! Althea and Ahmad.”

Althea and Ahmad have two of the most generous, compassionate hearts you could ever know. They share so much love and make such a difference in the lives of many chimpanzees and orangutans and we’re so fortunate to have them as part of our chimp family.

Althea and Ahmad, thank you so much for sponsoring the Queen’s special day and for all you’ve done to make it a celebration to remember!

Her Royal Highness / Birthday Girl:

Festivity preparations are in the works so be sure to check back later today as we all celebrate hope, love, home, sanctuary, and Neggie!

Today is in honor of Robert Ruggeri

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

It is a beautiful and peaceful day morning here at the sanctuary.  The chimps started their day, as they do most days this time of year, basking in the early morning sun coming into the greenhouse, and our neighborhood elk, Ellie, was still dozing in the shaded green grass when I arrived. Such a day couldn’t be more fitting as we celebrate a day of sanctuary sponsored in honor of Robert Ruggeri by his daughter, Rachel Ruggeri. Rachel shared this beautiful and touching message about her father:

“This day is in honor of my father, Robert Ruggeri, who would have celebrated his 81st birthday on June 6th. Though he passed away four years ago this July, his vital spirit continues to remain present in our minds and in our hearts. His love of animals was part of the fabric of his being – always with a dog by his side and happy to see all creatures enjoying their natural habit and the freedom that ensued. He would love nothing more than to see the chimps enjoying a sense of well-deserved peace and harmony among the acres of Eastern Washington, the place he himself fondly called home.”

Rachel, thank you so very much for your generous gift for the chimpanzees in memory of your father. We are honored to celebrate Robert and our hearts are with you and your family, hoping that the incredible memories you must have of him fill you with love and comfort. He sounds like such an amazing being and we’ll be holding thoughts of his special spirit here with us all.

Burrito, in all his courage, on top of the Twister:

Jamie and Foxie:

Annie (below) and Missy (top):

Annie and Missy top of Twister

Master Forager, Jody:

Jody with forage haul


Sunset over the sanctuary:

All day forage

Monday, June 5th, 2017

The chimps have had an exciting day of forages! Breakfast in the sunlit greenhouse, lunch on the stunningly lush Young’s Hill, and dinner in the playroom.

In the wild chimpanzees spend the majority of their days traveling and looking for food. Here at CSNW we serve most of the chimps’ meals by hand to make sure that everyone gets their fair amount and it also gives us the opportunity to check out any wounds and see how everyone is doing. That said, we take every opportunity to present the chimps with choices and activities that encourage their natural behavior. Forages are a great way to get them active and engaged and I imagine they often appreciate the opportunity to do as they please and not wait around for the humans to serve them their portions.

A beautiful lunch forage with Foxie and Dora:

Missy in the treat rock:

Burrito in the hammock! (Annie to the right):

Annie standing, Burrito to the right:

Annie checking out the tire swing for sweet potatoes, Burrito foraging in the grass:

Sweet Annie:

Missy had to stop several times to keep putting food back in her mouth and picking up pieces she’d dropped. She was not going to leave one piece behind!

Whew! She made it back to the greenhouse with her corn stash!


Beautiful Jody:

After lunch Jamie asked me to put on her boots and sit with her near the open panels of the greenhouse that face Young’s Hill so she could groom the boots. She eventually made a nest and decided to lie down next to me and enjoy the cool breeze. So I decided I should also have a nest and got a blanket to lie on next to her, a safe distance from chimps and caging. Before I knew it Burrito came over and sprawled out in the corner next to us, and Annie and Foxie curled up on the top platform facing the hill and we all just enjoyed a few moments of rest together on a peaceful spring day. Some of us (chimps) got to rest longer than others (me), but it was lovely while it lasted. 🙂 Sanctuary for us all.

Watching over her queendom

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

You’ve probably read about Negra and her desire to avoid any of the drama that may be occurring in the group. She typically observes from a distance and usually only gets involved if there is extended arguing at which point she will often give a loud, definitive pant hoot indicating that it’s time to knock it off. And it usually works.

Arguing isn’t the only drama she prefers to observe from a distance. Before dinner all the of the chimps appeared to be dozing in their nests (even the boss!) so I meandered up to close the door to Young’s Hill. All went smoothly and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself when I noticed Jody and Burrito sitting at the closed doorway with their hair standing on end (pilo-erect). Given that these two don’t typically get upset when the door is closed I knew it could only mean one thing; someone was still on Young’s Hill.

I scanned the hill and found Foxie and Troll sitting all by themselves at the very top of the hill on Carlene’s Tower. So of course, I apologized to everyone and immediately opened the door.  Den mother Jody immediately led the group out to collect Foxie (and probably tell her exactly what I had done). Not only did they collect her, but they ushered her all the way back inside, making sure she was inside safe and sound with her family. It was really a touching thing to witness.

Meanwhile, as all this excitement was going on out on Young’s Hill, Negra was quietly supervising from the top of the greenhouse, under the comfort of her rainbow blanket:

Foxie safely escorted back into the greenhouse with the rest of the chimps behind her, all was well again as  indicated by Negra’s drooped lip:

And for anyone who may be worried, we always require two people to count the chimps once Young’s Hill has been closed for the evening just to ensure no one could possibly get locked out overnight. 🙂

the privilege of being a caregiver

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

I first started working with chimpanzees in 1998, and I have been with the Cle Elum Seven for the entirety of their life at the sanctuary, even meeting them before they arrived on June 13, 2008.

And I still can’t believe that I have the privilege of caring for these amazing, playful, temperamental, intelligent, sensitive, wild, unpredictable, joyful, unique people.

Keeping cool

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Today has been all about enjoying the brilliantly sunny day while doing our best to keep cool. We’ve reached that wonderful time of year when we begin to remove the panels on the greenhouse and the chimps enjoy breakfast in the open air with a view of the hill. Volunteer caregiver Lizz made an extremely popular smoothie this morning (pineapple, banana and lime) and served apples and watermelon so the chimps were beside themselves.

Annie emptying her cup and Jody on the left licking up a drop from the caging:

Everyone was so happy this morning that even Negra couldn’t contain herself and initiated a wrestling game with Missy in the middle of breakfast (you can see a glimpse of Missy’s big play face!):

Foxie and Jody anxious for Lizz to pass out watermelon:

Foxie rubbing her toes in happiness:

After breakfast the chimps all headed out onto the hill with almost everyone heading to the top. Annie chose to go on her own exploration, as she often does:

Annie is her own woman. She has so many endearing habits – walking bipedally around Young’s Hill more often than not, making her Annie-bird noises by whistling through her hands when she’s particularly content, and lying on her back and blowing water out of her mouth to wash her face. With the temperatures hovering around 90, she has taken to doing this as a way cool off as well:

The chimps have been enjoying lots of frozen and watery treats today to stay hydrated and we even broke out the snow cone machine.

My favorite mountain lupines are finally blooming around Young’s Hill and there is an entire field that reaches inside and outside the perimeter of the chimps’ outdoor habitat. Walking through that area is my favorite part of the walks with Jamie this time of year. Sometimes the amazing scent wafts through the greenhouse:

For the first time I noticed several Melissa Blues, a small violet-blue butterfly I have typically only seen at higher elevations around the mountain lakes and rivers. There were so many floating around the lupine today it looked as if the flowers were taking flight:

It’s such a beautiful time at the sanctuary. Be it butterflies, flowers, beautiful days, exciting fresh food, or big-hearted humans, I’m so grateful for all the beauty, in all it’s varied forms, that surrounds the chimps every day.

Happy Birthday, Erin!

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Shelley and Tim Connelly in honor of their daughter, Erin Connelly! They shared this message about today:

“We would like to honor our daughter Erin on her birthday. She is a volunteer at the sanctuary and will be graduating in June with a M.S. in Primate Behavior from Central Washington University.”

Shelley and Tim, thank you so much for thinking of the chimpanzees as you celebrate Erin and her accomplishments today! As one of our amazing chimp house volunteers, we’re so happy to be able to celebrate her special day with you!

Happy Birthday, Erin! We hope it’s the best one yet! Thank you so much for all your hard work for the chimps and your dedication to improving the lives and well being of primates living in captivity. Have an amazing day!

Beautiful Annie:

Dining al fresco

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

It was so beautiful today I almost hyperventilated. That said, it was by far the hottest day we’ve had this year with a sudden temperature rise to the upper 80’s so the chimps and the humans are still adjusting and taking things slow and easy. Well, the chimps are anyway!

Keri and I thought it would be a great day for a lunch forage on Young’s Hill. The chimps have continued to enjoy the current local bounty of lilacs so we’ve been adding those to forages as well. (Foxie has decided this year that she LOVES them!! She wants absolutely nothing to do with the leave or stems, but happily munches the flowers).

At first everyone was a little reluctant to run out into the sun, but once they realized lunch al fresco was awaiting them, they all ran out together. Burrito, Foxie (that foot!) and Annie:

Annie foraging bipedally and Negra in the foreground:


Foxie (with Dora in her mouth):





Sometimes life is astoundingly beautiful.