Posts Tagged ‘chimpanzee sanctuary’

Fine Dining

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

There’s nothing quite like savoring a raw onion on a spring afternoon with the birds chirping in the background.

For Jody and all the mamas

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

The weekend of celebrations continues in the chimp house today as we celebrate not only Mother’s Day, but beloved Jody, on her 42nd honorary birthday!

I was in my gracious neighbor’s magical backyard bright and early this morning, heisting two armfuls of lilacs. Many of the chimps enjoy smelling and eating them and even now, late in the day, the scent of fresh lilac occasionally is wafts through their home.

We started the celebration off with a beautiful breakfast forage of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, watermelon, and baby bananas on a bed of lettuce, strawberry and banana smoothie, and more sparkling cider.

The greenhouse was bright and sunny as we set up the party. Pineapple tops are a favorite of the birthday girl so we hoped Jody would find this pokey treat:

And she did:

Nothing says party like shoving an entire pokey pineapple top in your mouth:

Dora had a gift for someone:

Foxie gazing at Dora while enjoying her fresh lilacs and melting my heart into a big ol’ puddle:

Annie enjoying a party plate:

For Jamie, parties are even (or maybe I should say especially) serious business. She was methodically looking for her favorites and keeping a watchful eye on the three pinatas hanging from the ceiling until she could get to them. Jamie loves a challenge so this was her kind of party:

The lilacs are quite popular with a few of the girls and Annie was doing her best to collect some on the sly while avoiding the eyes of the more dominant Missy and Jamie and she collected quite a few:

Gorgeous Missy enjoying a treat box:

Burrito was a wild man all morning long. Riling up the girls, rattling the caging, displaying throughout the chimp house. Pretty much normal stuff, but with an extra dash of wild today. But he did find time to settle down and enjoy the company of his friends on their special day and even went to Annie’s defense to reassure her when she got yelled at for picking the “wrong” lilac:

Burrito and Foxie:

And then there’s Negra, who ended the celebration by collecting all the lilacs she could and winding up with a beautiful bouquet:

Mother’s Day is a special day at the sanctuary. If you’re new to the blog and just learning about the chimps, we only know that Jody was most likely born in the wild sometime in 1975. We chose this day to celebrate Jody in honor of the nine infants she gave birth to, but who were stolen from her during her time in biomedical research. With the exception of Jamie and Burrito, all of the chimps residing here had children and were denied the right to raise them. So today, with full hearts, we honor each of the chimps, their loss of their own mothers, and their children who lost the opportunity to grow up with their amazing mothers. You can learn more about each of their stories here.

Mother’s Day can feel like a bittersweet celebration here at times. But what I am finding is that with each passing year, as we’re astounded and privileged to witness the strength, healing and resiliency of these amazing beings, the pain of knowing the horror they endured for so long starts to fade into the shadows, eclipsed by the incredible light of each of these special souls. While we will always honor all they’ve been through, it’s really become about celebrating all they’ve overcome as unique individuals, the hope and joy they embrace each day with, and the family you’ve made possible for them to have. I hope with all my heart that they feel the same.

Happy Birthday, beautiful Jody!! We love you so very much!! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there! And I really think that’s all of us in some shape or form. 🙂



Saturday, May 13th, 2017

It’s finally here! Our biggest fundraiser of the year, our annual Hoot! Gala and Spring Fling celebration! And while the humans are on their way to one of the most unique and exciting parties in the city, they aren’t the only people partying. The chimps are having their own celebration with a dinner of field roast and roasted sweet potato on a bed of lettuce and cabbage, sparkling cider, and a huge forage with sweet onions, corn on the cob, and fresh coconuts:

On this one day of the year, we have to get the chimps settled in earlier than usual so that staff working in the chimp house have time to get spiffed up and head to the gala. Routine and the comfort and security of knowing what to expect are important to the chimps and we don’t want to veer from that more than necessary or have them getting bored with a little more time on their hands, so a sure fire way to keep everyone active, happy and engaged is to set out an exciting forage cut into teeny, tiny pieces.

Annie sitting in a field of forage:

Burrito was beside himself, as usual when there’s food involved (that’s Jody behind him):

Jamie likes to drag a table around with her during forages for easier collection:

She decided to eat the field roast first and save the rest for later:

While Jamie was occupied elsewhere, Burrito bravely decided to steal her leftover dinner “boats.” I braced myself for Jamie to scream at the top of her lungs (her tactic when someone is touching – or even thinking about touching – something she doesn’t want them to), but she must have decided she found something else worth her attention and Burrito scooped them up without issue and food squeaked to celebrate:

Annie mid food grunt (you can just make out Negra’s ear as she sits in the sunny window below Annie enjoying her dinner with a view):

Jody, ever the adventurous foodie, was collecting corn cobs:

Foxie and Missy were ladies of the loft for this one and out of sight of the camera.

Anna, myself and volunteer, Helen, put the chimps’ dinner out a couple hours ago and Jamie is still foraging!

The chimps are completely silent as I write this so I just went to check on everyone. And who did I find, but this guy, fighting off a food coma in the last sun puddle of the day:

Somehow he mustered enough energy to still be an adorable goof:

But it was so hard:

There are some crazy amazing items of this guy (and more!) up for auction tonight. To all of you who have helped sponsor this amazing celebration, volunteers who have helped plan this party of all parties, to all those working to make it special for our guests, those who are attending the gala and making it so much fun, those who will be raising your paddles high or who have been pre-bidding online, and those of you cheering us on from home, there aren’t enough words of thanks to each of you for making everything that you do, possible. You make this sanctuary for these seven amazing chimpanzees a home. A home filled with love, comfort, joy, adventure and healing. And we hope a home for others, who are awaiting their day in their own sun puddles.

Hoots of love and gratitude from all of us to all of you! Have a fantastic evening and check in tomorrow for our celebration of Jody’s birthday and Mother’s Day! Yep, that’s how we roll in the chimp house…party, after party. Hopefully, Burrito is revived by then…

Trying Something New

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Almost six years after Young’s Hill opened, there are still parts of the two-acre outdoor habitat that Negra hasn’t explored. She seems to feel safer and more comfortable with a roof over her head. When she does go outside, she tends to stick close to the building in case she gets spooked and needs to run back inside quickly.

You can imagine our surprise and joy this afternoon as we watched Negra venture clear up to the top of Young’s Hill and plant herself calmly on a mound of wild greens. She had never been on this part of the hill before but she didn’t seem to be worried about that. The whole sanctuary held its breath as we stopped and watched in awe. She looked so small up there.

After awhile she crossed a log bridge and continued her exploration.

She stopped in to sample the grass growing under Twister.

You can just see Negra under the structure on the left, with Foxie on the right.

Eventually it was time to make her way back down the hill, but she was in no hurry.

Waking up

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Humans share numerous behaviors with chimpanzees, including the tendency to yawn after just waking up. I can’t seem to stop yawning myself when I look at these photos of boss Jamie.

Just two friends having a great time

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

I can’t decide which is better, Burrito’s play face, or Foxie squishing Burrito’s belly. You decide.

The Queen appears

Monday, May 8th, 2017

The second I opened the door to Young’s Hill this morning all the chimps immediately filed out together (minus Negra) and made their way up Young’s Hill:

As I was watching them I noticed they all occasionally paused to glance back toward the greenhouse, particularly Missy:

When I finally looked to see what they were watching for, the Queen herself emerged. Spring at the sanctuary means the return of swooping swallows and raucous birdsong, wildflowers, neon green grass, bees, butterflies and HRH (Negra) on Young’s Hill. Negra didn’t need to venture far to find a lush patch of her beloved spring grass:

She was immediately so relaxed, she sat with her royal drooped lip and took in the morning sights, sounds and sun:

Then she went back to her private grass forage:

Negra was only outside for about 5 minutes, but for her, that seemed enough to fill her with contentment and she headed back to the greenhouse. As I passed by a minute later I saw her climbing to the toasty top platform with an armful of blankets for her morning nap. The life of a Queen:


10 (ish) Seconds of pure contentment

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Each morning we start the chimpanzees day by serving a snack in the indoor areas. This snack is usually a pretty good motivational tool so we can close off the Greenhouse for some cleaning. To unlock an area for humans to enter it, we need that enclosure to be chimp-free and securely closed off, but sometimes getting an area chimp-free isn’t so easy. Especially when that area is a really warm, sun-filled greenhouse. This beautiful morning I was expecting the challenge, so I opened up the wooden barn doors immediately to let the morning air into the chimpanzee’s playroom area. The chimps were so excited they came pouring in from the greenhouse, making the morning breakfast shift that much easier!

Today is the first day it almost feels a bit HOT of all things. For your viewing pleasure: a brief clip of Jamie and Jody relaxing next to the barn doors:


Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Jamie was particularly adamant about patrolling Young’s Hill this morning.

Mostly so she could keep an eye on a visiting neighbor. After a little while, this neighbor seemed a bit lost, so Diana made sure he found his way home.

And Jamie helped.

Jamie received backup from some of the other chimps, including a rather intimidating looking Annie.

The full patrol: Foxie, Annie, Missy and Jamie.

Walks in the rain

Monday, May 1st, 2017

There is a gorgeous book recently written by a mother and daughter in Hawaii called “Hānau ka Ua” in which they recorded over 200 hundred names for rain in the Hawaiian language. It is written that their kūpuna, or elders, were so attuned to the environment that they gave individual names to the variety of rains and winds on the islands. They knew each rain based on where and when it fell, the intensity and duration, the effect it had on people, the sound it made on the trees, and even the scent it carried. So in tune to their environment they considered it their kin.

In this part of the world, spring is ushered in on the winds. Not just any old breezes, but winds that come off the still snow-covered mountains and barrel down the valley like a freight train, that kick and buck like a wild horse, and throw sticks and stones for good measure. The days like that are sunny, but often leave all the primates taking cover. But on the days when the wind’s wild rumpus finally settles, like today, it can be cloudy and rainy. A gentle, soothing rain.

When not on Young’s Hill, the chimps chose to spend the entire day in the greenhouse, under the sound of rain on the roof. Annie nested there all day, as she often does when it rains. During a downpour at lunch we all just sat taking cover together, faces turned upward listening to the soothing rhythm.

Foxie keeping France Dora safe:

When Jamie insisted on multiple walks in the rain today, I marveled at the transition she’s made to being a Pacific Northwest chimp, virtually un-phased by the showers. Each walk for each kind of rain was different, but all were joyous and calm.

In a gentle, but steady light rain we didn’t dawdle, but she walked surprisingly slowly, the only sounds the raindrops on my Gortex jacket and our feet moving through the wet grass:


Later in the day when the rain let up and turned to only a few sprinkles was when she decided to kick up her heels and run:

On the final walk of the day most everyone decided to come out (though it was too wet for Negra today).



Foxie and Dora:


I’m so grateful that the chimps have the opportunity to be so connected to their home. To each rain and wind, snow and sunny day. To be kin with their environment and the wilderness in their hearts. Just as they were meant to be. Just as we were all meant to be.