Posts Tagged ‘chimpanzee sanctuary’

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.





Happy Birthday, Janice!

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Janice Clayton! Today also happens to be Janice’s birthday and she shared that she felt there was no better way to celebrate!

Janice, thank you so much for choosing to give the gift of sanctuary to the chimpanzees on your own special day. Celebrating your life by making a difference in theirs is an incredibly kind thing to do. From all of the primates here at CSNW, thank you! We wish you the happiest of birthdays!!

Here’s Jody enjoying bamboo she harvested herself.  A seemingly simple thing, but look at the joy in her face! Your support makes that possible and we couldn’t be more grateful.


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.




A Little Adventure on Jamie’s Boots

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Volunteer caregiver-in-training Liz and I were walking around Young’s Hill with one of Jamie’s favorite boots not long ago. When we rounded the last corner of the hill, on our way back to give Jamie the boot, Liz spotted a patch of mud and decided to stick the sole of the boot in the mud “To put a little more adventure on it.” As soon as we went inside, we headed straight for where Jamie was so that she could have some time inspecting and grooming the boot.

Ever since that day, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. We’ll never really know why it is that Jamie insists that volunteers and staff walk around the outside of the Young’s Hill fence (always wearing or carrying a boot or two), while she patrols from inside the fence. Perhaps it’s because it’s just more fun to have company come along, or maybe she feels that she is “leading” the patrol if there is someone else with her. But, maybe it’s because she wants to have a little piece of “adventure” from the other side of the fence; her bit of freedom from the other side.

Whatever the reason may be, we are always happy to join her on her walks around Young’s Hill. The photos are from Jamie’s third walk around the hill today.




Here is what the boot looked like after the first part of the walk.

This the boot after the entire way around Young’s Hill with plenty of adventure on it.

Jamie just as I was presenting her the muddy boot.



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.



The ladies of mystery

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

The ladies of mystery…Annie, Jody, and Missy. We always intend to share the lives of each of the chimpanzees equally on the blog. But some of the chimpanzees have different feelings about being the subject in front of the camera (just like we do) and we always want to respect that and never invade their personal space uninvited.

If you’ve been following the blog for awhile you’ve probably seen that Missy (often with Annie right behind her) is always on the go and rarely sits still long enough to photograph. And Jody, who loves to relax in luxurious nests, is often tucked away just out of sight of the humans, especially in the winter time. But then, all of this speaks to the beauty of their lives in sanctuary. They always have a choice.

So while today two of the ladies of mystery still remain a mystery, I was able to recently capture one of them, the beautiful Annie:




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

Rain, snow or shine

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

I’m often asked if the chimpanzees go onto Young’s Hill when it is raining or snowing. The answer is yes, they still venture outside, although I think we can all agree, sunshine is probably preferred.

As I’m writing this, Jamie is on her fourth walk around the hill (it’s currently foggy and sprinkling). And she wasn’t the only one to venture outside. Burrito, Missy, Jody and Annie joined her on the hill for a little while after lunch despite the fog and rain.

Sometimes the chimps go out to gather a “snowy treat,” as you will see in the some of the following photos.

It seems that no matter what the weather brings the chimpanzees still choose to go outside.











Glitter baby!

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Thanks to all of our amazing supporters, Foxie is the lucky recipient of many troll and Dora the Explorer dolls. Without fail, each new “baby” makes her day (and subsequently the humans’ day as well). She recently received this wee glitter troll and as one might imagine, she was particularly enamored with this flashy little guy:


Shortly after receiving her new friend, I found Foxie in the greenhouse full of joy and laughing all by herself (well, not by herself, she did have the troll tucked in her hip pocket):


Look at this huge play face!


And the piece de resistance…notice glitter troll on top of Foxie’s upside-down bum!!


Good times, in classic Foxie-style.