Posts Tagged ‘Animal Welfare’

Saving Dora

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Foxie has an interesting relationship with her dolls. She almost always carries at least one with her, and we wouldn’t think of putting out the enrichment for the day and not including a handful (or several handfuls) of trolls and Doras. As much as Foxie likes having her dolls with her, she also doesn’t mind being separated from them – temporarily. She’ll toss one to a caregiver, or Jamie will swipe one to entice Foxie into a game of keep-away. But Foxie almost always reaches a point where enough is enough and she wants her “baby” back.

Today a Dora doll was stuck in a toy and Foxie was determined to get it out.

After awhile, Foxie had had enough and grew increasingly upset. With one final pull, she freed Dora, and then screamed at the offending toy for good measure.

Roasted pears on snow, a delicacy

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

‘Tis the season for roasting and baking foods for the chimpanzees! They’ve had baked sweet potatoes almost everyday this week and they LOVE it! Food squeaks echo throughout the chimp house when they see the caramelized glaze on the potatoes. Yum! We’ve been experimenting with roasting some other foods, too, to mix things up a bit. Beets, carrots, and pears have all been a huge hit.

Today volunteer Sandra and I baked some pears with the plan to put a couple out as a forage after we cleaned the chimpanzees’ playroom. Here’s the before and after shots:



I turned off the oven well before we were done cleaning but the pears were still pretty hot when it was time to set up the forage. So we came up with a nice way to cool them off—use them as a topping on some snow!


Sandra filled bowls up with fresh snow that fell this morning and scattered bits of roasted pear on top. All the chimpanzees huddled around the door as we set up the forage, pant hooting and food squeaking with excitement.

Jamie did not hesitate in grabbing as many bowls as she possibly could. Luckily we scattered many bowls around so everyone got to have a few, but Jamie got the biggest haul. It also helped that she used a box as a collection device. She pulled her box around and added bowls to it as she went through the playroom, as a sort of shopping cart.



Once she had collected everything she could, she sat down to enjoy her snow and roasted pear snack.





Ebola and Great Ape Conservation

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

There are many questions about how this year’s Ebola outbreak started, how it spread so quickly, and how to prevent it from spreading further—but what does Ebola have to do with non-human great ape conservation?

It is known that Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever is transmitted by coming into direct contact with bodily fluids of someone infected and showing symptoms of the virus, a cadaver of someone who died from the virus, or the fluids or meat of an infected animal.

Bushmeat is the meat of any non-domesticated animal that is consumed by humans. In Africa, bushmeat is not only consumed locally, but it is exported worldwide. Many bushmeat species are endangered, in which cases the hunting of those species is illegal. Still, these animals are hunted, and their meat is sold on the black market and exported to other countries, including the United States. No one really knows just how many pounds of illegal bushmeat are smuggled into the U.S., because it is believed only a fraction of the imports are confiscated—but estimates range from hundreds of thousands to millions of pounds per year.

While habitat loss is the largest long-term threat to African ape populations, hunting for bushmeat has risen in the last couple of decades as the most significant immediate threat—and could cause species extinction if the practice continues to grow. However, with the emergence of the deadly Ebola virus, more people have begun to tune into the problem. Though research shows that fruit bats serve as hosts to the Ebola virus and are believed to be the direct source of the current outbreak, consumption of infected ape meat has been linked to previous outbreaks since the late 1990s. Primates and other animals can become infected by eating half-eaten fruit that have come in contact with fruit bat saliva, and the virus is passed to humans who eat infected animal bushmeat.

The Ebola virus can also be detrimental to wild ape populations. In 2002, over 5,000 gorillas died from an outbreak. In fact, the threat of imminent Ebola outbreaks (and other pathogens) on already dwindling populations has prompted researchers to propose developing a vaccination for the apes. Before vaccines could be administered to wild apes, however, some researchers feel they would need to be tested on captive apes. As we know, there is a push to end the use of chimpanzees in research altogether, so the topic sparked a debate earlier this year (read more on that here).

The Ebola scare has also left African sanctuaries in a predicament, such as Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone—one of the affected countries.




The travel limitations and general panic about the disease have kept people away from the country, and the lack of outreach opportunity has hit the sanctuary and others like them hard. Additionally, with travel restrictions in the affected countries, it is harder for volunteers to help with the day-to-day work. The sanctuaries have had to hire more local staff, causing their funds to be stretched thin. Recently, the Chimpanzee Conservation Center in Guinea has been impacted by this trouble as well. Thankfully, no apes in sanctuaries have contracted Ebola, and all the caregivers have been taking extra hygiene precautions to make sure everyone stays healthy.

Though the direct threat to great apes from Ebola is reason for concern, it’s possible that the attention on Ebola could have a positive impact on ape conservation and help prevent future outbreaks in human populations. Unlike other pandemics and deadly pathogens, which are able to sustain in human populations long-term, Ebola is a unique virus in that it comes and goes sporadically in humans in the form of destructive outbreaks. So far these outbreaks seem to have originated from human contact with infected wildlife. With effective education in local communities, and efforts to take legal action against logging, prevention of hunting and eating bushmeat can save countless lives—of both human and nonhuman apes.




Off-balance or perfect ten?

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

We’ve had some beautiful, sunny, blue sky days this weekend which is unusual for this time of year, and Jamie is certainly taking advantage of it. Diana and Jamie went on at least six walks yesterday! Missy joined a couple of times, but of course opted to run at full speed while Jamie kept to more of a saunter.



Then Missy decided to sprint toward the log bridge as if it were a vault, and she appeared to lose her a balance a little bit. Or maybe she meant to hurdle herself in that way, and it was actually an intentional landing. So, the question is, did Missy lose her balance or did she totally stick that landing? Let us know what you think in the comments.



From scrawny to brawny

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

When the chimpanzees first arrived at CSNW six and a half years ago, they were frail, weak, almost sickly ghosts of themselves. Through the years we have seen their once physically and mentally deprived selves transform into thriving, healthy, and fit chimpanzees full of personality.

The other day Jamie was sitting on a step in one of the front rooms and it struck me how strong her thigh muscles have become from her daily perimeter walks. It’s really very impressive!


She’s really come a long way. These photos from the first days in sanctuary really highlight her fragile, atrophied leg muscles.


In this photo you can see not only how scrawny and skinny her legs look, but also how much she plucked her hair from her belly while in the lab, likely due to sheer boredom:


Sanctuary has provided Jamie the opportunity to patrol her territory, stretch her legs, and keep her mind active. Her life now is full of so much enrichment—both for mental stimulation and physical activity—that she doesn’t get as bored as she used to.

Of course, captivity is not perfect and Jamie still does pluck her belly every now and then, perhaps because it became a habit but also possibly due to periods of boredom. No matter how great we make her environment, we can never recreate the life she and all captive chimpanzees should have had in the wild. But for Jamie, the next best thing is taking walks around Young’s Hill while her caregivers follow along on the other side of the fence—always with at least one of her favorite boots, of course!



web Jamie boot walk bamboo background IMG_0933


Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Jamie knows that the best way to get Foxie’s attention is to get between her and one of her beloved dolls.

On the 7th Day of Giving Thanks

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

We are the sum of all of our parts. For the past six days we have been sharing our gratitude for all of the amazing humans and organizations who give their support to the sanctuary in a myriad of ways. Each and every person we’ve mentioned, and I am sure so many more who we may never be aware of, has made the sanctuary and the lives of the chimpanzees what they are today. And for that we could not be more thankful.

On this seventh day of giving thanks, we want to share our gratitude for the heart and soul of the sanctuary and all that we do, the chimpanzees themselves. Words could never fully express the respect, admiration and love we have for Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy and Negra. We are thankful for the unique personalities that each of the chimpanzees share with us. The joy and laughter they bring to our lives and for making us smile every single day. We are thankful for the gift and privilege of their friendship and all that they teach us about forgiveness, strength, courage, healing and choosing to live each moment to the fullest. For being themselves, always, and allowing us into their world so that we can share that with others in the hope of helping other chimpanzees and primates. And honestly, I suspect I speak for all the caregivers when I say we are even thankful for the flinging of feces and spitting of saliva. How could that be possible? Because it’s one more moment that they get to express themselves just as they are knowing they will be respected, cared for and loved just the same.

We are profoundly thankful for each of the chimpanzees’ indomitable spirits and their ability to heal, forgive, and allow humans into their lives, in spite of what our species has done to them. Not because this makes us feel better or because it justifies in any way what they have experienced, but because it allows them some sense of peace and comfort and to experience life more on their terms, as it always should have been for them.

We are thankful for beautiful Annie’s sweet, gentle spirit and her new found ability to stand up for herself and her friends when it really matters to her. For her growing independence, courage and comfort in her own skin and the sense of freedom we hope this brings her after so much anxiety and fear. And for “Annie-bird” noises as she whistles into her hands and clapping her feet together which mean she’s relaxed and happy, raspberries and foot stomping when she gives us the gift of her attention, and to bear witness to the amazing friendship she has with her best friend, Missy.


We are thankful for Burrito and the heartwarming charm he so willingly shares with us just by being himself. For his place in a family of chimpanzee women who love him despite his boisterous displays and lack of appropriate chimpanzee etiquette and provide him a safe place in which he can figure out what it means to be the only guy among six ladies. And for the sound of his food squeaks echoing throughout the chimp house at meal time, for play faces, play stomps, play bows, and blanket tosses when he is feeling particularly playful.


We are thankful for Foxie and the sheer joyful exuberance she greets each day with. For the innate sensitivity she shows toward her fellow primates, human and non, and her ability to make all of us (even Jamie) feel better just by being herself. For the growing courage she finds to explore Young’s Hill in awe and for her ability to trust us when sharing her “babies” with us, knowing she will never have anything she loves taken from her again. And for back flips, pirouettes, kisses given while hanging upside down, the willingness to gaze into our eyes, her toes (!) and the toe tickling that comes with those toes.


We are thankful for Jamie and her astounding intelligence, willpower, and creativity. For the opportunity she finally has to call the shots and be loved and respected exactly as she is in each minute of the day. For walks around Young’s Hill and for the immense honor it is to accompany her on her perimeter walks and be included as part of her troop. And for “upside-down-Jamie-on-a-barrel” because it means she is happy, do-it-yourself Jamie who takes charge of her home, that she now feels safe enough to take naps and actually close her eyes and rest, and happy groans of pure joy when she receives a new pair of boots.


We are thankful for Jody and what she teaches us about the value of comfort, relaxation and taking care of oneself. For her ability to now spend each minute choosing exactly what feels best for her. For the sheer joy she receives from foraging for every wild plant she can find on Young’s Hill, for the way she “holds the door” and gathers everyone up until she makes sure all the chimpanzees have come in for meals, for her “dinosaur” groans when she is particularly happy about something she’s eating, for “happy baby” poses while lounging in her nest, for sometimes poking us when she’s feeling saucy, and for her earnest gazes and endearing “butt-bounces” when greeting us.


We are thankful for Missy and the fact that she finally has the choice to run to her heart’s content in every direction she can on Young’s Hill, laughing as she passes you by. For the athletic prowess which brings her so much joy after so many years living in a small cage with no room for her spirit to move. For her ability to wake up each day with so much joy that she and her best friend, Annie, play chase, wrestle and laugh like crazy before they are even fully awake. And for the leaping, spinning, swinging, jumping, and climbing. And for the way she gets us to “chase” her to the garden to ask for summertime tomatoes.

Missy balancing on fire hose

And we are thankful for Queen Negra and her ability to find joy and a position of respect in the companionship of her chimpanzee and human friends after years of solitude and depression. For the absolute pleasure she receives from the simple things in life like a nest made of sometimes over 30 blankets, the sun on her face, and days spent nesting peacefully by her window as she watches the valley below. And for hand claps when the servers are too slow, straw thrown in our faces when she really wants to get her point across, head nods of approval when we dance for her, the absolute joy she receives from night bags and for nuts and seeds on her belly as she enjoys those nightbags.

Negra looking at camera with night bag

On this Thanksgiving Day and always, we are ever grateful to all of you who provide hope, love, home and sanctuary to these seven chimpanzee people. We couldn’t possibly hold more love in our hearts for them and to know they are safe, loved, respected, and able to finally make choices in their lives is the best gift we could ask for. Please know that you all, in whatever form your support is given, make a difference in their lives.  From all of us at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

The chimpanzees’ Thanksgiving Day celebration is getting under way now so be sure to tune in tomorrow to check out the fun!!

Thanksgiving Eve (the 6th day of thanks!)

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

This week we’ve expressed our gratitude for everyone who plays a part in helping Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest fulfill its mission. Staff, board members, and volunteers are integral people who dedicate so much of their lives to helping the Cle Elum Seven chimpanzees. In-kind donations of services and goods help us stretch every dollar we can, and grants and foundations help us complete big projects. But you—our donors—are literally the heartbeat that keeps the sanctuary pumping.

Donations have forever changed the lives of the Cle Elum Seven with projects like Young’s Hill and the on-site mobile veterinary clinic. Not only do donations contribute to big projects, but they keep the sanctuary going day-to-day. As JB wrote about last week, staff members are devoted, long-term friends and caregivers of the Cle Elum Seven, and they keep the outreach and volunteer programs going as well as working on development and operations. Your donations bring our hard-working team together to make CSNW the best possible home for the Cle Elum Seven and an all-around amazing organization.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, we want to take a minute to reflect on how far we have come with your help, and how your role will take us so much further. We simply cannot ever express with enough gratitude how appreciative we are for every dollar that is given, and every minute someone spends telling their friends and family about why they support Annie, Negra, Jody, Jamie, Burrito, Foxie, and Missy.

It’s hard to put into words the impact that all our donors have had on the lives of seven very special beings. Perhaps words can never truly express the importance you’ve all had in their lives, but maybe these “before and after” pictures can illustrate that effect.













The outpouring of support during the last six and a half years is evidence that our donors really do have the biggest hearts, and it is because of you that the Cle Elum Seven finally have a second chance at life.

Your donations have given Burrito hope.

web Burrito look up sun in face clear sky YH IMG_1043

You’ve given Foxie love.


You’ve given Missy a home.

web Missy wrapped up in blanket nest greenhouse GH IMG_0816

You’ve given these chimpanzees the sanctuary they so deserve—and for that, we thank you!

On the 5th Day of Thanks

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

This thanking business is so much fun!

Today we are sending loud, boisterous chimpanzee-style pant hoot thanks to all of the foundations and organizations who have supported the sanctuary with grants.

The sanctuary does not receive any government support. While the majority of cash donations to the sanctuary come from individuals, we have also been fortunate to have received private grants from some really incredible organizations and foundations.

Sometimes these grants are for specific projects, such as the National Anti-Vivisection Society grant earlier this year that helped pay for the back-up generator for the chimp house (along with a donation from the Youngs), the ASPCA grant that paid for the wildfire sprinkler system, and a Yakama Cares grant that paid for essentials (namely the rental of the port-o-potty!) for our Summer Visitor program.

observation deck

Often, grants are for general operating expenses. It’s difficult to express how affirming it is to receive grants, knowing that the granting organization has a limited amount of funds to distribute. Receiving grants for general operating funds can be particularly affirming because the grantor acknowledges the importance of the day to day care of the chimpanzees and the costs involved in operating the sanctuary.

Grants, just like donations from individuals, impart a responsibility on us to use the gift effectively and in partnership with the grantor.

We are very proud to have received, in the last year and a half, tens of thousands of dollars towards general operating funds from the American Anti-Vivisection Society, the Summerlee Foundation, the Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation, the Tony Stewart Foundation, and grants from two foundations that are in the process of closing down. Earlier this year we were also incredibly excited to receive a grant from Bob Barker’s DJ&T Foundation.

All of these granting organizations support other amazing nonprofits, and we are so thrilled to be a part of their good works.

Just like individual donations, the chimpanzees have truly benefited from these gifts. It is difficult to imagine their lives of desperation before coming to the sanctuary, and there are not thanks enough in the world to express to those who have not only helped get the chimpanzees out of that situation, but who continue to support their new leases on life that allow them to be…


goofy like Burrito

burrito with stuffed fish




relaxed like Jody:

jody nesting

Jody nesting


and serene like Annie:

Annie serene

annie portrait fr4 1