Posts Tagged ‘chimpanzee sanctuary’

Foxie the Explorer

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Foxie was born and raised in a biomedical research facility. Before arriving at the sanctuary she had never experienced grass underfoot or sky over head. She was completely unfamiliar with wind, rain, snow or sun. She grew up unaccustomed to blankets to nest with, enrichment to play with, or the every day challenges her free-living counterparts face which engage their intelligent minds and active bodies. Living as a biomedical research subject, Foxie’s every day challenges were survival based on an entirely different level. What was going to happen each day? Where was she going to be taken? What was going to be done to her? What was going to be taken from her?

Of course, this isn’t just Foxie’s story, but the story of every chimpanzee in biomedical research. As you may be able to imagine, once here in their sanctuary home each of the chimpanzees responded differently to all the options they found suddenly available to them. But it took Foxie awhile to warm up to the idea of investigating all the new enrichment and activities on offer. Like each of the chimpanzees, over six years later it remains an area she continues to make progress in in her own time and way. And given her former life, this isn’t surprising. Changes probably brought about fear and uncertainty and new things probably weren’t to be trusted. When your whole world exists primarily in a cage not much bigger than a bathroom stall the world outside of that, no matter how wonderful, could easily feel overwhelming and terrifying at times.

Knowing this, I couldn’t possibly have more admiration for the courage the chimpanzees display as they push past their own private fears. I remember the first day I found Foxie exploring Young’s Hill all by herself. I had gone out to visit the chimpanzees and found everyone in the greenhouse, relaxing. Everyone except Foxie. When I went to look for her, I was surprised to see her half way up Young’s Hill, with one of her troll dolls on her back, walking hand over hand, foot over foot, into the grass. She stopped briefly to look at me and nod and then carried on her way. It’s hard to express the variety of emotions I had for her in that moment, but it will always be one of my most treasured.

It’s increasingly common these days to find Foxie exploring new territory, particularly Young’s Hill, on her own. She still remains very cautious of the climbing structures and typically avoids the structures that swing or move. But not long ago, I spotted her headed up the hill with a look of purpose. With green haired troll in tow, Foxie was going exploring:



And explore she did. Here she set her “baby” down just long enough to test the structure out by shaking things:


Then she took a minute to confer with the troll:


Biting is a good way to test the sturdiness of things:


Apparently happy with the results, she decided to enjoy her perch for a few moments. But look at that expression of determination:



Foxie went on to climb and investigate more of Young’s Hill that day than I have seen her do before. It was a side of her I hadn’t seen before and one I felt so privileged to witness. But so much more than that, was the joy and gratitude I felt for whatever had healed in her enough that allowed her desire to explore outweigh her fear. And to feel safe being that much more herself.


Missy’s athletic prowess

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Missy is a very athletic individual. She especially loves to run, and if she accompanies Jamie on a walk around the hill, she will usually pause for a minute and let Jamie get ahead—just so she can sprint to catch up. She often has a playface when running around Young’s Hill, so she clearly gets a lot of joy from it. I would imagine after decades in a lab it must feel so freeing.

In between sprints, Missy will take brief moments to look across the valley surrounding the sanctuary. Sometimes she likes to climb up to a high perch in order to take in the view. The other day I was able to get a photo of Missy on one of the high posts, but only for a minute before she scrambled down to the ground for some more running. It’s very impressive to watch her climb down one of these posts!

Missy sit on post

Missy climb down post

Missy climb down post

Missy climb down post

Missy climb down post

Missy climb down post and eat snow

Happy Birthday, Julie!

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Julie Harding, as a way to celebrate her birthday! Julie has been a long-time volunteer with the sanctuary helping out with everything from processing the chimpanzees’ donated produce and prepping their meals, to making sure they have clean blankets to nest in and interesting enrichment to play with. She even helps out at our events!

Julie shared the following message: “In honor of my 57th trip around the sun, I’m sponsoring this day. Happy birthday to me and I hope to continue to support the CE7 for many years!!”

Julie, thank you so much for wanting to share your day with the chimpanzees and for the variety of ways in which you help to ensure that every day is one of sanctuary for them. All of the primates here wish you the best birthday yet!

These photos are from last summer, but if you’re day is filled with half as much joy as Missy’s days are from just being Missy, it will be a good day!

fb web Missy run YH grass in mouth IMG_5751

web Missy run feet off ground young's hill YH IMG_5513

web Missy run chow bag hands feet off ground YH IMG_5719

Annie and Jody Show Off Their Flexibility While Grooming

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Grooming is a important activity in chimpanzee societies. Not only is it useful to help chimpanzees keep themselves and other members of their group clean and free of dirt and debris, grooming also helps to build friendships and solidify bonds. The activity can also be used as a form of reconciliation after a conflict. Sometimes the chimps spend their time attending to themselves, as was the case with Jody and Annie in the following photos and video.

Annie and Jody displayed their flexibility and similar grooming techniques while sitting next to each other on one of the ledges in the Front Rooms.







Happy Birthday Donna and Doreen!

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Donna and Doreen Hughes are long-time friends of all the primates here at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, especially their pal, Foxie, with whom they share a special love of trolls. They are twin sisters living the life in their beloved Big Apple and today is their birthday! Being the kind and compassionate souls they are, they chose to celebrate by sponsoring a day of sanctuary for the chimpanzees and shared this message:

“We’d love to celebrate our birthday by sponsoring today! We love Foxie and all of the chimps. What gift could be more meaningful than to help the Great Apes? We hope the 23rd of January is a wonderful day for the chimps, and every day this year! We hope to visit the sanctuary in 2015! Love from NYC!”

Donna and Doreen, thank you for all you do to support great apes everywhere. We are so lucky to have you as part of our chimpanzee family. We hope you have a beautiful day and that all the love, joy, and kindness you send out into the world comes back to you tenfold! Happy Birthday!! (Maybe try some back-flips in Central Park, Foxie-style! Or at least give your trolls a good toss about!).

Two of Donna and Doreen’s kindred spirits, Foxie and troll:

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web Foxie throw blue troll doll in air about to catch playroom IMG_0100

Always a reason to play

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

The chimp house is full of activity today as we (meaning J.B.) works on the completion of the new bridge in the chimps’ playroom. The chimpanzees are always interested in what is happening in their home, especially if it’s outside of the ordinary.

Annie had been watching J.B. from the greenhouse windows when she decided to run around to the front rooms to get a better view:



If you know Annie and Missy, you know that these two best friends can typically be found playing chase, wrestling and laughing with one another. So once Annie took off Missy saw this as a prime opportunity to begin a game of chase and was hot on her heels, laughing all the way, and Debbie happened to be there with the camera to catch them mid-air:



Dashing Burrito

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

I’ll never tire of seeing this guy in our “portrait studio” — the place in the chimp house with a lot of great natural lighting. Just check these out!






A day of sanctuary and service

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Today is observed as Martin Luther King Jr. Day here in the States and both Katharine Moody, and a supporter who wishes to remain anonymous, chose to sponsor this date as a day of sanctuary for the chimpanzees. Today means many things to many people. It is a day that honors Dr. King’s contribution to humankind and it represents the belief in freedom, equality, and justice for all through non-violent social change. To further honor Dr. King’s legacy, in 1994, Congress designated this federal holiday as a national day of community service – “a day on, not a day off.” We are honored that our two sponsors thought of making a difference in the chimpanzees’ lives on this day. Thank you so much, to both of you!

Katharine shared this amazingly kind message with us: “Thank you! I would not have had the opportunity to do this without you and your efforts.”

And our anonymous supporter shared this special message: “I chose this day because it represents the increased freedom experienced by the Cle Elum 7 when they were transferred from the research facility. It brings me near tears to see them roaming the hillside and lying on their backs eating grass without signs of fear. I am honored to be able to help serve each and every one of them.”

Jody enjoying a quiet moment with bamboo she harvested from Young’s Hill:

web_Jody_eat_bamboo_2_GH_jb_IMG_4287 We truly value each and every one of our supporters. We could never fully express the gratitude we have for being given the privilege of providing the chimpanzees with their lives in sanctuary. There are countless individuals and organizations, all doing incredible work, making a real difference in the lives of others, that you could choose to support and knowing this makes us feel all the more honored and full of gratitude.

Every single one of us has something valuable to give, a way to be of service and support to all living beings. Each of us is rich in this respect. And whatever inspires your compassion, makes your heart sing, follow that. Because ultimately, it benefits us all.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Jamie and Missy (background) on Young’s Hill:


In Search of The Perfect Snow to Eat

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

It didn’t take long for the chimpanzees to make their way outside today once the sun came out. Jamie, Jody, Annie, Missy, Foxie and Burrito all made their way onto Young’s Hill. While Jamie continued on to do her first perimeter walk around the hill, the other chimpanzees were more focused on eating the pieces of crusty snow they found. Missy seemed to be on a mission to find the perfect piece.

Missy took her time making her way across the logs, eating chunks of crusty snow along the way.

Then she moved on to Negra’s cabin in search of more pieces. Of course, as many of you know by now, Missy has a knack for climbing. She climbed up one of the posts and made her way up to the roof of the cabin.





Lo and behold, there it was, another big piece.


She took her time enjoying the morsel, taking in the scenery and scoping out where to find the next piece.


When she finished, she climbed onto the roof of the cabin and then proceeded to check for more crusty snow chunks on the other side.


After that, she continued up to the top of the cabin.




Ahhhh, the perfect piece.


Happy Anniversary Mr. and Mrs. Brezo!

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Isabel Ibarra in honor of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Brezo, on their 56th wedding anniversary! Isabel, we are truly touched that you would choose to honor such a special day in your family’s lives with the gift of sanctuary for the chimpanzees. It’s amazing to see all of the wonderful life celebrations that the chimpanzees get to be part of and that their lives are enriched by.

Mr. and Mrs. Brezo, from all of the primates here at Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW we wish you a beautiful day full of love, laughter and celebration with your friends and family. Thank you so much for sharing your day with the chimpanzees! Happy Anniversary!!

Burrito and Jody:

web Burrito Jody groom platform greenhouse GH IMG_3121