Posts Tagged ‘chimpanzee sanctuary’

Burrito, All Wrapped Up

Monday, May 30th, 2016

In many ways, Burrito is a typical male chimpanzee. He can be blustery and macho. His loud, boisterous displays often involve him swatting the girls as he charges by them, hair standing on end.


Still, there is something innocent about him. After living for decades in lab cages with extremely limited contact with others of his species, he has encountered many obstacles on the road to understanding chimp behavior. It seems that he genuinely cannot imagine why the girls would get angry with him when he acts out against them during displays. After hitting someone and inciting their wrath, he has been seen running to that individual for a hug of reassurance – asking for reassurance, not giving it.


When the other chimps give him submissive greetings, instead of receiving them graciously, he squeezes his eyes shut and looks the other way. Whatever he is feeling in these moments looks a lot like social anxiety.


Considering how uncomfortable he can sometimes be around the other chimps, it is always inspiring to see him try. And he does try. Joining the others in a grooming session or accompanying Jamie on a perimeter walk will probably always give him a little anxiety, but he is determined to keep pushing his own boundaries.


Happy Birthday, Erin!

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

This day of sanctuary has two sponsors! The first is from Tim and Shelley Connelly in honor of their daughter, Erin Connelly. They shared this message about today:

“In celebration of her birthday and in honor of our daughter Erin, who is pursuing a Masters degree in Primatology at CWU and is a volunteer at the sanctuary. Following her dream!”

Tim and Shelley, thank you so much for supporting Erin in such a compassionate way and choosing to make a difference in the chimps’ lives in her honor! We are so fortunate to have many amazing student interns and volunteers helping care for the chimps who come to us through Central Washington University and are happy to be able to share the chimps’ lives with them.

Erin, thank you for all your hard work for the chimpanzees! From all of us here at CSNW we wish you the happiest birthday!!


Foxie side glance

Happy Birthday, Marsha!

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

This day of sanctuary was sponsored by Bruce Wagman in honor of Marsha Perelman on her birthday! Bruce and Marsha are both amazing friends to not only the chimpanzees, but to animals everywhere, and we’re thrilled to celebrate Marsha’s special day here today! Bruce shared this wonderful message about today:

“About ten or more years ago, through the most random of coincidences involving asbestos, I was introduced to Marsha.  Over the course of time since then, she has been a client, a teacher, a student, a partner, and most important of all, a dear friend.  And she has been an invaluable supporter of the Cle Elum Seven and other chimpanzees, in more ways than anyone can count, but in essence, by giving them her heart (while keeping big chunks of it for her dogs).  All sorts of animals are so lucky Marsha’s heart was born.  As an example of Marsha’s heart in play:  When I told Marsha about the lives of the CSNW chimps before they got to their Cle Elum bliss, her immediate response was, “I just want to go there and meet them and tell them I’m sorry.”  No need, Marsha.  Your actions have made that clear.  Happy Birthday to a true companion along the road to make up for what has been done to the world’s superior species.”

Many thanks to you, Bruce, for sponsoring such a special day in honor of Marsha! We are so full of gratitude to have humans such as yourselves sharing your incredible hearts in the world and for all you both do to make the lives of not only these seven very special chimpanzees better in every way possible, but for the countless other amazing beings whose lives you’ve made a difference in.

Happiest of birthdays to you, Marsha, we hope your day is full of all the love, joy and comfort you provide to so many others! Thank you so much for being part of our chimp family. And hoots of happiness to you from these seven beautiful chimp people:














Negra close-up

Garden anticipation!

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

When caregivers so much as glance towards the garden growing outside the walls of the playroom, there is always a chimpanzee or two keeping a watch to make sure they aren’t missing out on something.  Today was no different, as volunteers Denice and Yuri tackled the weeding in the garden beds, I caught several members of the Cle Elum 7 spying from various vantage points.


My favorite photo of this morning was of Jody peeking around the corner of the raceway to Young’s Hill so she can see just exactly what’s happening to her vegetable patch:


It’s not really a big surprise to see so many watchful eyes on the garden when it’s already starting to produce!


Intangible expansions

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

I’d like to say that I no longer think of the decades the chimpanzees spent living as biomedical research subjects in open slat cages the size of a bathroom stall, the last couple of years which were in a windowless basement. But I do. I’d like to forget the images of my friends’ familiar eyes peering out from between the bars that their familiar hands clung to. But I can’t. I wish I couldn’t picture them having spent their days – their years – with no enrichment, nothing to nest with, no room to rip and run and climb, unable to engage in natural chimpanzee behaviors and family relationships, or just be free to be themselves, however that looked. But these thoughts, and most importantly the chimps’ histories, are inversely proportional to the growth and expansion they demonstrate with each passing day, season, and year.

We are fast approaching the anniversary of the chimpanzees’ arrival to their sanctuary home eight years ago, on June 13th. Eight years! And yet every single time I see them foraging on the hill, climbing new structures and taking in unobstructed views, pushing their own comfort levels with such courage, grace and dignity, it takes my breath away. No matter how many times I see all these moments in each of their lives, it never for one second feels less than wondrous and breathtaking.

And this morning, one of now countless particularly beautiful mornings the chimpanzees have had here, was no different. As they foraged for breakfast al fresco on Young’s Hill, as they traversed seemingly every inch of every structure, their hair shining in the sun and blowing in the breeze, moving as a family, each step through the electrifying green grass another step further from their histories, my friends’ familiar eyes cast to the expanse of sky and valley and mountain beyond, I watched, my heart on tiptoe.





Burrito and Jamie:




Foxie and Annie:


Foxie and France Dora:






Annie and Missy:




Jamie taking in her new viewpoint from the new structure, Twister:




And then moving on to check out the view from Jamie’s Tower:


web_jamie_head_peeking_over_ her_tower_kd_IMG_2409


And not to worry, Jody and Negra were both at the far reaches of Young’s Hill foraging for breakfast with a side of wild greens right along with their family, but unfortunately my photos of those two beautiful ladies didn’t turn out.

The Queen of late night

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

While Burrito and Annie utilized their bipedal skills to navigate the growing grass on Young’s Hill in the hopes of finding a missed piece of forage, or a new patch of wild greens sprouting up…






Jamie, of course, opted for something a little higher up.




And in other news, if you’ve been following the blog for awhile you’re probably aware that as the weather grows nicer boss lady, Jamie, often keeps us out late walking around the perimeter of Young’s Hill with her. After the chimps are served dinner at 4:30 they typically start heading inside to collect their evening food puzzle and make their nests for the night (unless you’re Jamie). The humans’ day ends at 5:30 after the chimps are all safe inside and mostly asleep. But if anyone (again, Jamie) wants to stay out late, we stay until they are ready to come inside. But who do you think stayed out past bedtime this evening?…


Yep, that’s Negra!! Sitting on her current favorite mound at the very top of Young’s Hill happily eating prickly lettuce! No matter the evening sky is growing darker with the threat of a storm coming, the Queen is in no hurry to come in. So it looks like we have a second boss lady in town. But that’s what sanctuary is all about. And this is probably a rare job where one’s heart grows a little bigger every time your bosses make you work late.



Intrepid Explorers

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

It’s not the wilds of Africa, but Young’s Hill is looking pretty good this time of year. Even nervous Negra is exploring more than ever.








Burrito, Missy, Annie, Jamie, and Foxie:


Burrito, Foxie (with Dora), and Jamie:






Today is in memory Judy Matthews

Monday, May 9th, 2016

It’s been a beautiful weekend of celebration of our beloved Jody’s birthday and honoring both the mothers who the chimpanzees lost and the mothers who they are. We are honored to continue the celebration with today’s day of sanctuary in memory of Judy Matthews, sponsored by her daughter, Ronda Cluff. Ronda sent this beautiful message about her mother:

“This donation is in memory of my mother, Judy Matthews, who nurtured my love and respect for animals by teaching me from the earliest age that “do unto others” applies to all creatures. She continued her support of me as I became a vegetarian and animal activist and even thanked ME for teaching HER to see the world a little differently”

Ronda, your mother sounds like such a special person and we are so touched that you would choose to honor her through helping to provide the chimpanzees with the nurturing home and lives they deserve. Thank you so much for choosing to live your life in such a compassionate way and for all you do for animals. What a beautiful way to honor your mother’s memory each day. As we celebrate Judy’s life here today, our thoughts and gratitude are with you both! Thank you for making a difference in the chimps’ lives!




Up Close and Personal

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Grooming is a bonding experience for chimpanzees, and one reason is that it requires a lot of trust in one’s grooming partner. Chimps aren’t afraid to get quite personal with each other. The other day I caught Jamie very gently grooming Negra’s eyes and ears.

A few of Annie’s favorite things

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

For each of us, every season holds favorite things to look forward to. That one special food, flower, sight, sound or scent that you can only enjoy at a certain time each year.

This spring I’ve watched the chimpanzees anticipating the growth of the wild greens on Young’s Hill and the fruits and vegetables in their garden weeks before anything appeared. For weeks Jody diligently marched to the top of Young’s Hill each day to see if the wild mustard or wild lettuce had begun to grow yet. The second the weather warmed up, Missy began asking us to open the barn doors to their playroom so she could see outside to her beloved garden. And every day she runs to the window next to where we plant her favorite cherry tomatoes each year, checking to see if they’ve magically appeared. This is the first year I’ve noticed the chimps demonstrating such clear anticipation for things to come with the corresponding season. It makes my heart so happy to know that they recognize they have favorite things to look forward to in their sanctuary home throughout the year.

Of course spring in particular offers a variety of favorites for each of the chimpanzees. Annie for example, loves racing across the expanse of Young’s Hill in a mad game of chase and wrestle with her best friend, Missy. But she also increasingly enjoys exploring and foraging on the hill in solitude. Just sitting and taking in the sky, the surrounding fields and watching the birds. Often she will be the only person out on the hill, perfectly content and serene.







And another of Annie’s endearing favorites as the season grows warmer? Toes. Yep, Annie loves to see human toes! The second she spots our feet in sandals she immediately blows raspberries (indicating she wants to see our toes right now!), grabs a tool, and races over to check them out, utterly mesmerized. Around here, the humans are pretty smitten with chimp toes and while I think their toes are a lot cooler than ours, I guess I can see why she might be fascinated by these strange things that probably seem so similar and yet so different to her own.