I think sanctuary means something different to each of the chimpanzees. To Negra, it means the joy that a single peanut brings.
Posts Tagged ‘chimpanzee sanctuary’
It’s days like today, when it’s pouring down rain relentlessly upon our heads, that being a chimpanzee caregiver can become even more challenging than it already is. Just imagine trying to keep otherwise generally active chimpanzees entertained when the weather isn’t cooperating!
As you can see here, the weather definitely didn’t feel like cooperating today. This is what Young’s Hill looks like this afternoon:
While many of the chimpanzees have taken advantage of the weather to engage in some indoor shenanigans others, like Jamie, are not having any of it. Here you can see Foxie & Negra playing while Jamie looks on:
Some days weather is just too much to overcome. I think, perhaps, Jamie’s having one of those days.
Today we give thanks to Robert Maurer, who sponsored a day of sanctuary for the chimpanzees! Robert wishes to extend his gratitude to all of the staff and volunteers who provide care for these beautiful chimpanzees. Robert, thank you so much for your kind words, it’s certainly our privilege and honor to be able to do so. And thank you so much for thinking of the chimpanzees on Thanksgiving and making their day even more special! All of the primates here at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest wish you a wonderful holiday!
Here are best friends, Annie and Missy enjoying some time together:
We have so much to be thankful for here at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, and at the top of the list are all of our amazing supporters who care for the chimpanzees and help us provide them with healthy food, enriching activities, and a safe, comfortable, and loving home. We couldn’t do it without you! Be sure to check out the blog later today to see the chimpanzees’ Thanksgiving festivities! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!
And our thankfulness continues! If you saw the blog yesterday, you’ll know that the chimpanzees received many wonderful new gifts from some of our amazing supporters! Well, today the chimpanzees also received new toys from Green Toys! In addition to the ongoing challenge we (and Enrichment Coordinator, Debbie) have of finding things that are new and interesting for the chimpanzees’ active minds (particularly Jamie’s!), as you can imagine, the life as an item of chimpanzee enrichment is not an easy one. So after receiving a variety of Green Toys from our amazing supporters via our Wishlist, we were pretty excited to learn that they are chimp-tested and caregiver-approved! Green Toys are not only environmentally friendly but can take a licking from the chimps and remain relatively unscathed.
Here is Jamie checking out a new dump truck:
Jamie giving the “bite test” to a submarine as Foxie (who is still loving her new French Dora doll from yesterday!) comes to check things out:
And Jamie checking out a new airplane (and I am pretty sure thinking she could fly one):
Missy enjoying some orange “tea” in the tea set:
Thank you so much Green Toys for the chimpanzees’ gifts! And also for making great toys which just happen to be great chimpanzee enrichment!
Many of you might have seen that a chimpanzee named Billy was on the show Chelsea Lately last week. Billy was seen rocking and showing his top teeth—a clear sign of distress. The show said they would have Billy back the next night, and despite hearing from thousands of people to please not air Billy again, they went ahead with the segment anyway.
We want to continue to put pressure on the show and on Chelsea Handler, the host of the show. Please send a polite letter to her, c/o Tom Brunelle, letting her know that chimps like Billy should not be used in entertainment. Not only are there numerous welfare concerns, but seeing chimpanzees alongside humans perpetuates the pet trade. Studies also show that since chimpanzees are so prevalent in media, people aren’t aware of their endangered status. Please speak up for Billy and all chimpanzees still used in entertainment and ask Chelsea to issue a mea culpa about Billy’s appearance and promise to never use apes on her production again.
You may send your letter to the Chelsea Handler c/o Tom Brunelle at email@example.com
Sample Letter to Chelsea Lately:
Dear Ms. Handler:
I was disappointed to hear that Chelsea Lately had Billy the chimpanzee on the show, and despite hearing from concerned advocates, aired a second appearance by Billy. You should know that great apes used in entertainment are torn away from their mothers as infants, often repeatedly beaten during training, and then discarded when they become too strong to be managed.
Using a chimpanzee for a cheap laugh sends the message that these amazing beings are simply props. Surely you are aware that chimpanzees are endangered species in critical need of protection?
Please make the compassionate decision to issue a mea culpa for airing Billy’s segments two nights in a row, and pledge to never exploit great apes for entertainment purposes again. Thank you for your consideration of my comments on this urgent matter.
[Your name here]
[Your city & state]
If you send an e-mail to Chelsea, please remember to BCC Eyes on Apes at EyesOnApes@ChimpsNW.org for tracking purposes. Thank you!
Every day in sanctuary is a gift of life, a freedom, a privilege of choice that otherwise wouldn’t have been available to these chimpanzees. One of my greatest joys as a caregiver is, in fact, the moment I am not needed. Although I love to interact with the chimpanzees whenever we have the opportunity and am willing to don a boot and travel around Young’s Hill at Jamie’s inclination, I also appreciate the self-contained moments when my company is superfluous. I love knowing that these chimpanzees are so comfortable in their home, so secure in their sanctuary, that they can enjoy raucous company or quiet contemplation as they wish.
The majority of the time, chimpanzees are silent.
And they are often sweet and playful.
But chimpanzee behavior is much more complex than that. Adult chimpanzees are many times stronger than the strongest humans, their behavior is unpredictable, and they often solve problems with physical aggression. Whereas a typical human family squabble probably won’t progress beyond hurtful words and some yelling, a chimpanzee family squabble is much more physical, and often includes hitting, kicking, and biting. Outside the family, things often get even more violent. Adult male chimpanzees have been known to patrol the perimeter of their territory and seriously injure or even kill intruders – a behavior they share with their closest living relatives (humans!).
As caregivers, we develop close relationships with the chimps we care for. Much of our time with the chimps is spent in silly games of chase or tug of war, or quiet and gentle bouts of grooming. But we never forget that the Cle Elum Seven are not domesticated and they do not and should not act that way. They are not pets; they are individuals who play by their own set of rules and who don’t belong in our world. The best we can do for them is to celebrate when they act like chimps should, and be grateful that we’re lucky enough to share our lives with these ambassadors from the natural world.
We love to throw parties for the chimps’ birthdays at the sanctuary. After over five years at CSNW, we’ve really seen how the chimps are “aging backwards” with each passing birthday—which is just all the more reason to celebrate! For five out of the seven, we celebrate an honorary birthday because we don’t know their actual birth dates, either because they were captured in the wild, or because their records are so scarce.
We commemorate Jody’s honorary birthday every year on Mother’s Day because she had nine babies in the lab in nearly as many years, more than any of the other females at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest.
One of Jody’s children, Levi, was born this day 30 years ago. He is now the same age as Burrito.
I’d love to say that we will be celebrating today in his honor, but Levi is not in a sanctuary. He is still living in a laboratory. Levi was one of the small group transferred from Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico, to Texas Biomed in San Antonio a few years ago.
This was the only note written in Jody’s record, on his day of birth “11/23/83 — Delivered healthy infant male #88… removed and taken to nursery (Levi).”
Levi didn’t have the opportunity to grow up with his mother, and there is more and more evidence that points to how important it is for chimpanzees to be with their mothers. A recent study looked at a group of free-living male chimpanzees who were separated from their mothers, and 87% of the sample group died earlier than the expected lifespan.
Levi is still alive, but it’s unlikely that his birthday will be any different than any of the last 29 birthdays that he has lived in laboratories.
Levi and the approximately 866 other chimpanzees still in research in this country deserve to be in sanctuary.
As many of you know, the NIH announced that they are planning to retire about 300 of their chimpanzees. Just this week congress passed an amendment to the Chimp Act which increases the spending cap on federal sanctuary support, and it’s currently on the President’s desk waiting to be signed. This is a good step in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us.
Be sure to subscribe to the Eyes on Apes Take Action Alerts to be notified when we need to voice our support for the release of chimpanzees still imprisoned in laboratories.
Jody in the lab:
Jody in sanctuary:
Primatology is such an interdisciplinary field—it’s a mix of anthropology, psychology, zoology, biology, and ethology—and depending on a primatologist’s background, they have very different interests. If you have an anthropology background for instance, you might be interested nonhuman primates from the perspective of human origins for group size, culture, linguistics, and so on.
My background is in psychology, so in many of my classes we studied comparative cognition of nonhuman primates and humans. One thing comparative psychologists study is theory of mind. Do nonhuman primates have a theory of mind? That is, do they understand that other individuals have different beliefs, desires, and perception than their own? There’s a ton of behavioral measures that researchers use to determine if an individual—nonhuman or human—has a theory of mind.
One behavior that is evidence of a theory of mind is eye gaze and joint attention. Chimpanzees, like humans, communicate with eye gaze. They use it with each other and with humans, too. For instance if some food has dropped just out of reach, Burrito might get a caregiver’s attention by making some noise, and when they approach him he will look straight toward the food item. If we follow his gaze we see the peanut he’s trying to get. Things like this happen all the time, and for us, common sense would say that of course chimpanzees have a theory of mind. Burrito understands that until he grabs my attention and points it out to me, I am not aware of the peanut lying just outside the caging.
Very frequently we are asked if eye contact is OK with chimpanzees. Well, it is! And they make eye contact quite frequently. It’s one way they communicate with us.
Jamie often interrupts our cleaning routine to request a drink of water from the hose. She’s quite persistent; we’re usually not allowed to resume cleaning until she’s had her fill. Today, while Debbie and I were cleaning the front rooms, Jamie distracted us for probably fifteen minutes. We’re happy to serve, of course.