Posts Tagged ‘chimpanzee sanctuary’

Morning Surveillance

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

As staff and volunteers arrive each morning, boss Jamie often chooses to monitor the activity from the bench in the room we call the portrait studio. She can keep a good eye on both the kitchen and the parking lot from this spot.

Today she received some backup from her good friend Foxie.

Foxie brought along her newest doll (DJ Suki from the recent Trolls movie).

Some days are best for a nest

Monday, March 27th, 2017

The sun has filled the chimp house with light and the chimps with high spirits and shenanigans, but the spring wind is chilly today so the chimps have spent the afternoon enjoying sunny spots from the comfort of their nests this afternoon. Much how I spent my weekend, so who can blame them?


Jody enjoying a magazine:

Burrito keeping an eye on good friend, Jody, from afar:



Peas in a pod

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Missy and Annie are best friends. Though their individuality (especially Annie’s) comes out more each day and varies in several ways, it’s pretty unusual to see one without the other at least nearby. They will often nest near one another and upon occasion we’ve even found their nests woven together in a figure eight.

But if you know Annie and Missy, you also know that they spend most of their time together on the go. Play faces, laughter and mad games of running, chasing, wrestling, and climbing are the norm from sun up ’til sun down. Even when they are resting next to one another there is usually a game of slow motion slapping or tickling going on. So it’s a lovely treat to catch them in a still moment together, just enjoying one another’s company and the view.


Negra Gets Some Air

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Negra is the oldest chimpanzee here at the sanctuary, and while only a year or two older than some of the others, there is no doubt that Negra is the grandma of the family. She has a sizable belly, she’s a little bowlegged, she moves at a snail’s pace, and she has no patience for nonsense.

Negra prefers safety and comfort over adventure, and she is most comfortable indoors. She likes to find a sunny spot upstairs in the playroom where she can make a big, soft nest and nap or gaze out the window over the valley.

Today, though, Negra climbed out of her nest and joined the other chimps outside on Young’s Hill. Spring has been slow to arrive in Cle Elum this year, but now that the snow is finally melting and the sun is shining, the chimps are drawn outside more and more. Even Negra can’t resist the temptation.

It’s happening!!

Monday, March 13th, 2017

We’re reaching the balmy 40’s, the rains have begun, the bluebirds have returned and the snow is melting! To help move things along we decided to shovel a path part of the way up Young’s Hill this morning in the hopes it’d be clear in a day or two for Jamie to walk part way up the perimeter. Well, Jamie and her right hand gal, Missy, wasted no time in testing it out. When Jamie asked me to put her cowgirl boots on after lunch I assumed we were doing the usual wintertime back and forth to the greenhouse. She quickly disappeared and when I looked outside I spotted her and Missy on the pathway waiting for me to catch up! Apologies for the poor quality of photos, but of course we have to share the big day. 🙂

Jamie and Missy headed up Young’s Hill!:

They went to the end of the path and turned around to head back downhill where Jamie promptly marched back up hill and down again. (If you go enough times it equals a walk all the way around the hill, right?)



Meanwhile, Missy made her way every which way across the hill via tightrope walking:

Once Jamie was satisfied with her walk, she joined Missy:

Foxie and Jody made a brief foray up the hill as well:

Many of the chimps spent a big part of the morning on the climbing structures – racing across the fire hoses, climbing, brachiating – all the good stuff chimps do. Even Negra has been spotted outside for brief moments! I can imagine they feel just as we do when winter finally gives up it’s grip and ease of spring feels imminent. And I think for us humans, watching them so full of joy and exuberance at reclaiming their beloved Young’s Hill was more of a lift than anything spring could bring our way. Something tells me Jamie’s Boot Camp of multiple daily walks around the hill for her caregivers isn’t too far off…and we couldn’t be happier.

A Queen’s Eye View

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

This morning Negra chose a window seat in which to enjoy her sweet, crunchy apple. From this vantage point she can look out over the driveway to see who might be coming and going, and she can keep an eye on the caregiver house on the property.

The elusive beauties

Monday, March 6th, 2017

We are experiencing an exceptional bout of Winterspring. The brightest of suns, blue skies for miles, and warming temperatures beginning to melt the heaps and piles of snow and ice, but at the same time almost daily snow showers and another winter storm on the way.

The sun actually felt warm this morning so we opened up the door to Young’s Hill first thing, knowing the chimps would enjoy taking some of their breakfast “to go” so they could enjoy the gorgeous morning outside. Annie and Jody were the first ones to head up the melted pathways toward the structures. It wasn’t long before they returned to warm up in the greenhouse, but both chose to linger in the raceway where they could still feel the elements and look out over the hill.

We’ve mentioned previously that each of the chimps has a different tolerance and comfort level for having their photos taken and Annie and Jody are two ladies who are often difficult to capture. They prefer their privacy. But this morning they seemed to decide that the camera lens faded away in the light of the sun. So the three of us sat together peacefully, our eyes lifted to the bright blue horizon above the hill with winter’s chill wind coming up the canyon, but the warm sun on our faces singing of spring to come.



Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

A day of sanctuary was sponsored for the chimpanzees and Sarah Sweeney today by Brynn Edwards! Brynn shared this message for Sarah:

“This is to celebrate Sarah’s birthday! She is one of the most generous people and all she wanted for her birthday is to help these chimps. Thank you Sarah!”

Sarah, thank you so much for wanting to celebrate the chimpanzees for your own birthday! We are so grateful to both you and Brynn for choosing to share your generosity with the chimps and for being part of filling their lives with love, comfort, joy and care. Have a beautiful day and we hope it’s the best birthday yet!

One of my favorite series of photos of these two friends, Burrito and Foxie:

Fingers and toes

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

We all know the eyes speak volumes. (Burrito sustained a minor scratch during an argument, but nothing to be concerned about).

But I am endlessly fascinated by the chimpanzees’ fingers and toes and the non-verbal communication they convey. So like ours, yet so different. And once you get to know the chimps, their individual personalities, thoughts and moods are reflected in their physical gestures just like ours. Jamie uses emphatic hand gestures when she wants to impress the urgency or importance of something, Annie claps her feet together when she’s happy, and Negra impudently claps her hands when the humans aren’t moving fast enough. They are always expressing themselves, we just have to pay attention.

Burrito bites his knuckles when he’s feeling shy and playful:

Foxie rubs her toes together when she’s particularly happy:


Monday, February 27th, 2017

Long-time followers of the blog have probably seen us write about the ever cool and aloof Missy. She doesn’t mind the humans, but we don’t really serve a purpose for her outside of her daily needs and she usually prefers the company of her best friend, Annie, and chimp family.  And she has places to go and things to do. That’s the beauty of choice.

The chimps have been here for nearly 9 years now and it’s really only been in the last couple of years that we have seen Missy take more of an occasional interest in engaging with the humans. For example, it’s becoming more common for Missy to ask us to groom her or engage in a game of tug o’ war. And as Missy’s partner in Positive Reinforcement Training (PRT) I have definitely seen an increase in her excitement upon seeing the humans and her taking the initiative to engage us in a game of chase, just for the sake of play (as opposed to just brilliantly leading the humans to do her bidding like picking something from the garden or opening the barn doors up for her).

Missy is not a particular fan of having her photo taken (I can relate). But today she came up and sat next to me at the caging and just hung out. I always ask the chimps before I take their photo, which I did with Missy, and this is typically where she turns her back to the camera or takes off. But she tolerated me and the camera in her face and graced me with one, fleeting nano second of eye contact with those beautiful eyes. What a gift for us all. Then she pushed her lemon peel out at me, nodded her head, and took off for a game of chase.