Posts Tagged ‘chimpanzee sanctuary’

In memory of Carlene Garza

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Today we would like to honor the memory of a wonderful friend of the chimpanzees, Carlene Garza, and share a little of her life with you. How do you sum up a life in a few words? A valid question of course, and perhaps an impossible one to answer. But sometimes, even a small insight to a person, be it a kindness they offered, the way they chose to live their life, or the others whose lives have been made better for having known them, can show you just how big their spirit is and speaks larger than words ever could. Carlene was a long time supporter of the chimpanzees and followed our blog on a daily basis. Sadly, her family shared with us that she recently passed away after a long illness and we have been profoundly touched to learn of the impact the chimpanzees had on her life. Her husband, Joseph, graciously shared Carlene’s feelings about the work we do and the chimpanzees:

“Carlene became interested in the plight of chimpanzees’ in this country after viewing a documentary on the subject. She then went online to see what else she could find and stumbled on your website. When she got done reading the story about your sanctuary and the biographies of each of your charges, she was hooked. She visited your site and connected to your animals through Facebook and hardly a day went by that she did not check-in to see what they had been up to and new from the office. She had her favorites of course, Burrito, Foxie, and Jamie, but circumstances prevented us from supporting your great work in the manner we had wished. When Carlene became ill and we knew that there was no recovery, Carlene had asked that I do something for her friends at CSNW. I promised her I would do what I could. Carlene’s passing came way too soon and I decided that in honor of my dear wife, I would ask that family and friends make a donation to CSNW in memory of her. The success of this campaign has grown beyond my wildest dreams and I know that somewhere my wife has a big smile on her face because she was finally able to help her friends at the sanctuary. My hope is that periodically family and friends will think about Carlene, remember her cause and continue to support your work there at the sanctuary.”

We are deeply touched by Carlene’s story and are honored to have received many donations for the chimpanzees as a result of her and her family and friends. And they continue to come in!

Carlene and “the first love of her life,” King:


As if the Garza family has not been generous enough, Joseph also requested that he be able to send Carlene’s cowboy boots to Jamie as a special gift. Well, in perfect timing they just arrived and we couldn’t wait for Jamie to see them! After a quick safety inspection, we asked volunteer caregiver, Sandra, to model them for Jamie’s surprise.  Jamie usually wants to immediately inspect new boots, but this time she immediately wanted Sandra to wear them for a walk around Young’s Hill!


Upon their return, Jamie was ready to take a closer look at her gift:


Jamie loves to groom her boots after they’ve been out for an adventure:


Jamie asked for the boots after this photo and we passed them through the safety chute to her where she promptly held them to her forehead, a moment of pure boot love. Then she disappeared with them to the very top of the greenhouse where she built a nest with them. I couldn’t climb quite high enough to get a clear photo, but you can just make out the tips of the boots under her chin:


Joseph, we cannot thank you and your family enough for all you have done for the chimpanzees. We are incredibly moved that you would choose to make their lives better and at a time when you have suffered such immeasurable loss. Please know that the chimpanzees lives have been made better as a result of your and Carlene’s incredible generosity, along with that of your family and friends. And the life of one who has made the lives of so many others better, is a life to celebrate. We are honored to celebrate Carlene’s memory with you today. From all of the primates at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, we send you our deepest gratitude and wish you the comfort and joy that Carlene has shared with so many others.

Joseph kindly shared Carlene’s obituary with us. If you would like to learn more about the live of this beautiful woman, you may do so here.

Bobbing for apples

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

It’s fall time and that means apples are very plentiful. Today we decided to let the chimps bob for apples! We filled buckets with water and added small whole apples. As predicted, no one really “bobbed” for their apples—they just used their hands :) But they definitely loved the forage—food squeaks were echoing through the chimp house as we scattered the buckets around.

Jamie in particular loves whole apples and she gets very excited whenever we include them in forages. Today was no different, and she was sure to get her share (and then some!) But everyone else enjoyed the forage as well.






After all that foraging, Jamie curled up for a nice nap in the sun:


Eye Contact

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Eye contact can be a powerful and effective way of communicating between individuals. Sometimes all it takes to form a deep and everlasting connection with someone is to stare into each other’s eyes. No words need to be exchanged to solidify the connection or explain what the other is thinking. A long gaze into each other’s eyes can act as a recognition of kindred beings; an exchange that allows for acceptance of one another.

Sharing such an intimate act as eye gazing with each of the chimpanzees here at the sanctuary is something I truly cherish. It has helped create and solidify a bond of friendship, connection, acceptance and compassion over the years.

I understand that many of you may not have the chance to personally look into the eyes of a chimpanzee, so I wanted to share with you as best I can what it is like to look into the eyes of these seven magnetic beings.

Can you guess whose eyes are whose?





web_burrito cropped mid chew chow look at camera gh forage IMG_3755



Here’s Looking at You

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

I was taking a few close-up photos of Burrito enjoying his chow bag after lunch today, and he realized that he could see his reflection in the camera lens. He seemed pleased with what he saw.










You Win Some, You Lose Some

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Jamie lost a fight this morning. (Don’t worry – only her pride was injured.) Volunteer caregiver Denice and I were cleaning the playroom when shrill screaming broke out in the front rooms. I didn’t see what started the fight, but once I got to a place where I could observe, I could tell that some of the chimpanzees had a bone to pick with Jamie. Because Jamie is the alpha, it takes a lot of guts to stand up to her. Sometimes it seems that once one chimp works up the courage to tell Jamie what’s what, the others are more likely to join in.

During this morning’s dispute, Negra, Jody, and Annie had Jamie cornered in one of the front rooms. (Foxie and Burrito were doing their best to stay out of things, and Missy was hedging her bets and backing everyone up.) While most fights don’t actually involve a lot of physical contact between the chimps, there is always a lot of screaming and posturing. Eventually, everyone will say what they need to say, someone will back down, and the fight will be over. This morning it was Jamie who backed down; there really wasn’t much she could do against Negra, Jody, and Annie’s trifecta of fury.

Jamie runs a tight ship around here, and it’s not surprising that once in awhile the other chimps reach the end of their ropes and let her know. But I always feel a little sorry for Jamie when this happens. Her sense of self is completely intertwined with her dominance, and it can’t feel good to lose the control she works so hard for, even for a moment. Imagine that it’s your job to manage an office full of employees, typically obedient, who one day revolt against you without warning. You’re likely to feel angry, unsettled, and a little afraid.

But if there’s one thing we know about Jamie, it’s that she never loses her footing for long. After today’s fight she spent some time outside to clear her head:


and then took a rejuvenating rest.



Take Action Tuesday: One Direction’s wrong turn

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

EOA take action tuesday

Last month, we sent out an action alert about the band One Direction’s new music video with a chimpanzee named Eli. Several advocacy groups, experts, and supporters from around the world wrote to the band, but so far we haven’t heard any kind of commitment from the boys to avoid working with apes in future productions. Since their new album is releasing next week, we want to continue to put pressure on the band and ask that they make the pledge before their album release—and until they do, we will spread the word to fans and tell them not to buy the album.

Many of our readers are aware of the tragic lives of chimpanzees in entertainment—chimps like Jamie, for instance, live with trainers when they are young and when they are too big to be managed, they have to live inside a cage for the rest of their lives. Jamie is lucky to have reached a sanctuary, but many others have not had that chance. Some of Eli’s trainer’s former chimp “actors” have been cast off to decrepit roadside zoos. The trainer himself, Steve Martin, has been cited numerous times for things such as failure to have an environmental-enhancement program to promote the psychological well-being of primates, failure to supply adequate shelter from the elements and inadequate ventilation, failure to provide animals with minimum space, filthy cages, and improper feeding.


We’re so disappointed that the One Direction band members are promoting the exotic animal trade rather than using their celebrity statuses to protect chimpanzees, who are critically endangered in the wild.

We urge you to continue to put pressure on One Direction to remove the photos and promise to never use apes again. Please post on their Facebook and Twitter pages and let them know that chimps like Eli should not be used in entertainment. Not only are there numerous welfare concerns, but seeing chimpanzees in close contact with humans perpetuates the idea that they can be treated as pets.

You may also send a letter to the band c/o Lisa Wolfe at

Sample Comment on One Direction’s Facebook:

I am disappointed to see that One Direction went ahead and included clips with Eli in the Steal My Girl video, despite hearing from concerned advocates. Chimpanzees do not belong in music videos and you should know that Eli’s trainer is cited for dozens of animal welfare violations ( Showing these images perpetuates the idea that chimps make good pets. Please make the compassionate decision pledge to never exploit great apes for entertainment purposes again. I won’t be buying your new album until you make that promise, and I’ll tell all my friends to do the same. Thank you for your consideration of my comments on this urgent matter.

Sample Tweets to One Direction:

@OneDirection sad to see Eli in #StealMyGirlVideo. I won’t buy your new album until you pledge to never use apes again!

@Louis_Tomlinson @zaynmalik Eli had a nasty chain on his neck in the #StealMyGirlVideo pics! Please promise you won’t work with apes again.

We would love to see Eli and all remaining chimpanzees in entertainment reach a sanctuary, so they can receive the lifetime quality care they deserve and get a second chance at life like Jamie. We’d love to hear stories about sanctuary life someday for Eli and others like this one of Jamie:

This morning, new volunteer caregiver-in-training Lizz kept Jamie busy for quite awhile by dropping a piece of banana just outside the fencing. Jamie first used a magazine, but when that didn’t help much, Denice gave her a plastic tube which was much more helpful. Once she got the banana up against the fencing she used her fingers to delicately move the banana to spot where she could pull it through. We’ve talked a lot before about Jamie’s knack for projects and keeping busy, but when she’s not working on various projects—she’s quite talented at nest-making, and consequently, nap-taking.



The final thing you can do to help Eli is to spread the word! Please share this blog on social media and encourage your friends to speak up for him, too.

Kongs for Evening Enrichment

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Another one of our evening enrichment puzzles is putting nuts, peanut butter or mashed up banana into holes in kongs. The chimpanzees use their fingers or a tool (or a combination of both) to get at the tasty treats inside, but sometimes the treats can be pretty tough to get out.

Jamie spent the better part of the morning working on her kong that was left over from the previous evening. Evidently, there was a hazelnut that was trapped inside and she could not free it. She tried using all the tools at her disposal, including her finger, her tongue, the arm of a troll doll, and a short wooden tool. When none of them worked I offered her a hard plastic chop stick to use.

Happy Birthday, Larissa!

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Larissa Madrigal! Today also happens to be Larissa’s birthday and she shared that there was no better gift than “helping our genetic superiors!”

What an incredibly generous thing to do on your own special day, Larissa. Thank you so much for caring about the chimpanzees and making their lives better! From all of the primates here at CSNW, we hope you have a fabulous birthday!!


Today is in memory of Grandma Ann

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by the chimpanzees’ (and the humans’!) good friend, Tracy Headley, in memory of her grandmother, Ann. Today is Ann’s birthday and Tracy shared the following message:

“Grandma Ann was a wonderful person and helped me to be the person I am today.” 

Tracy, thank you so much for thinking of the chimpanzees in honoring your grandmother’s memory and the influence she had on you. You are a gift to those who meet you and Ann must have indeed been a wonderful person.

Foxie and Negra:

web negra foxie groom cute greenhouse GH IMG_9848

Taking in the view

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Negra spends a lot of time in front of windows. She has a few spots that she seems to have claimed as her own, all with great vantage points for watching the goings-on of the sanctuary property.

Her usual spot is in the catwalk in the playroom—from that window she can watch the cows, horses, goats, and elk wander about, the humans walking around the hill with Jamie, the cars drive along the highway, and the train go through the river canyon below. It’s a pretty great view so I understand why she spends a big chunk of time watching from there. Another spot she has claimed is in the corner of the greenhouse by the Young’s Hill raceway, which is actually the same view as her catwalk spot.

To get a look at the other side of the property she has a spot in front of the highest window in the loft area, and the same view can be seen from the window immediately below the loft, in one of the front rooms. This is the first place the chimpanzees had a chance to look outside when they first arrived at the sanctuary.

When I found these photos below on our computer from a couple weeks ago, the look in Negra’s eyes as she gazes out the window is all I could think about. And it made me think about the day the chimps first arrived. Though I wasn’t here that day, I anxiously waited for this very special blog post announcing that the chimps were in their new home (with a picture of Negra at the same window) and one from the next day including a video of Negra leaving her transfer cage, entering her new home, and greeting Sarah.



We can’t ever know what must go through Negra’s mind as she’s gazing out at the valley below, or watching staff, volunteers, visitors, or delivery people come and go from the other side of the building. Whatever it is she’s pondering, I would imagine it’s much different than when the chimps first arrived. Those first few days I’m sure it was thoughts of wonderment, curiosity, and even fear of the unknown. I hope now that her thoughts are more about what she might see Ellie up to today, or who’s walking up the driveway to visit, or how long the train will be this time.