Posts Tagged ‘chimpanzee’

Fall mornings

Friday, October 21st, 2016

The chimps love these cool fall mornings. As soon as we’re done serving breakfast in the greenhouse, they pack up whatever they have left – in this case chow bags and pomegranate rinds – and head out to the hill take in the view.











Rainy Day? Time to Play

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

It’s a gray, rainy day in Cle Elum but Foxie and Jamie are keeping themselves entertained inside. (Make sure your volume is up for some great breathy chimp laughter starting around 0:40.)

Rainy Memories

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

You have probably heard about, or maybe you are experiencing, the dramatic storm that is hitting the Pacific Northwest today.

The majestic Cascade Mountain Range protects Cle Elum from a lot of the wetter weather that our friends to the west in the Seattle area receive, and we are certainly not getting the extreme rain and wind that is expected closer to the coast. Nevertheless, it rained ALL day today, and it’s still coming down.

This is what the chimpanzees were up to today (similar to many of you, I suspect):


Jamie watching the rain from the greenhouse:

Jamie looking out of greenhouse

Don’t worry – Jamie managed to get a walk in before it really started to come down.


Annie nesting in the front rooms:

Annie in nest


Yesterday, Margaret, a friend and supporter who has known the chimpanzees since their arrival, reminded me of the first time the chimpanzees experienced a real rainstorm at the sanctuary. Margaret was volunteering that day. It was almost exactly eight years ago.

I wrote about the chimpanzees’ experience and posted photos in the blog post Rainstorm Bravery. This was three years before Young’s Hill was complete and before the greenhouse panels were on, so the rain came down right into what is now the greenhouse.

Imagine your very first experience being able to go out into a rainstorm (or just watch from the safety and comfort of your bed). Though they were in their 20s and 30s, everything in their sanctuary life was just so new to the chimpanzees.

Today, the rain doesn’t faze them too much, but when we get thunderstorms or other out-of-the-ordinary weather, they do still react. One of my favorite experiences at the chimp house was watching Burrito do a “rain dance” in 2013.

In honor of the power of weather, the connection that we have to our environment, and the inner chimpanzee in all of  us, I’ve reposted the video below.

I hope everyone is staying safe and warm as you wait out the storm.


The Tortoise and the Hare

Friday, October 14th, 2016

The Tortoise and the Hare is a helpful allegory, but who wins in real life? The tortoise (Jamie) or the hare (Missy)?

The Lost Photos

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Many of the photos we take of the chimpanzees each day never make it onto the blog. Here are a few that I’ve taken in the last couple of weeks that I just found hiding on the hard drive.











Speaking of photos you may have missed, the 2017 CSNW Calendar is now available in our online store! Here’s a sneak peak:


If you’re as smitten with these chimps as we are, don’t pass up the opportunity to look at their amazing faces every day of the year!

The celebration for Vicki continues!

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Today was also generously sponsored by Jim Horton in honor of his mother, Vicki Fagerlee, for her birthday! We are so touched by Vicki’s family who have come together throughout the day to celebrate Vicki and the chimpanzees who mean so much to her!

Jim, thank you so much for honoring your mother in such a thoughtful way! What an amazing gift to be able to make a difference in the lives of these seven special individuals as you all celebrate someone who is so special to you.

Happy Birthday, Vicki, from all of the primates at Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW!! Thank you so much for sharing your heart with the chimpanzees and including them in your special day! We are so grateful to you and your family for ensuring that for all their days forward, the chimps’ lives will be full of love, family and home.

And since you share a birthday month with the boss lady, Jamie, I thought we should recall all the pumpkin joy this month brings. If the chimps could send you a birthday wish, they might say with any luck you have your own head stuck inside a yummy pumpkin right now! 😉 But we humans just hope you have something like a nice cake or anything made of chocolate that brings you equal happiness. 🙂


web_jamie hold pumpkin halloween birthday party playroom IMG_1170

Jody testing out Jamie’s past birthday pumpkin:

web Jody kiss pumpkin party playroom IMG_1184

web Jody bite pumpkin close up playroom IMG_1183

Negra and Jody:

web_negra jody full face eat food pumpkin halloween party birthday playroom IMG_1235





Jody and Missy:

web_jody missy kiss reassurance pumpkin eat food halloween birthday playroom IMG_1261



Burrito. Of course.

web burrito head in pumpkin halloween birthday eat food funny playroom IMG_1309

In memory of Deborah Silber

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Anne Woodward in memory of Deborah Silber. We are so touched when people think of the chimpanzees in remembering their friends and loved ones. Anne shared this message about today:

“This donation is in memory of Deborah Silber, who loved all animals and was a big fan of CSNW.”

Anne, thank you so much for sponsoring a day of sanctuary for the chimpanzees in memory of Deborah. It makes us happy to know how much she cared for the chimps and that we get to share in celebrating her life. Your compassionate gift allows Jody and her family to enjoy their days in more ways than they could ever have imagined. And we can’t thank you enough for that. We hope today returns all that joy to you as you remember and honor Deborah today.

Beautiful Jody:


Jody close-up forage queen


The Boss Goes Solo

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Jamie is one of the bossiest people I’ve ever met. She holds the alpha position here at the sanctuary, but even for a dominant chimpanzee, she is a force to be reckoned with. She runs a tight ship; both the humans and the other chimpanzees at the sanctuary know better than to get on her bad side. After decades of powerlessness in research labs, Jamie seems determined to have things her way for once.

But Jamie is not a confident leader by any means. In fact, it seems to be her insecurity that causes her to overcompensate. She would probably earn a lot more genuine respect from the other chimps if she loosened the reins a little.

One of Jamie’s most important jobs as boss is to make sure her home is safe from intruders. She knows every time a volunteer arrives for a shift. She knows every time the UPS truck pulls up. She knows what the neighbors are doing.

Like her wild counterparts, Jamie goes on patrol regularly to check the perimeter of her habitat. She does this anywhere from twice to over a dozen times a day. She almost always requests that a caregiver go with her; she seems to just like the company, but it’s also likely that she’s a little nervous to go alone.

Lately, though, we’ve seen Jamie braving it on her own more and more. While we will always love walking with her, nothing beats seeing a strong, determined chimpanzee slowly become a strong, determined, confident chimpanzee.





Autonomy and Confidence

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

Last month I wrote about “missing chimpanzee” Foxie, who has been doing a lot of solo exploring on the hill this summer. In May, Anna shared that Negra had been venturing out further on Young’s Hill than she had ever been before.

Well, we can add Burrito to this growing list of chimpanzees who have suddenly become more confident in the outdoor habitat.

As I was finishing up a walk with Jamie this afternoon, I came around to the front of the building and noticed the figure of a chimpanzee way up on the towers at the top of the hill. To my surprise, it was Burrito who was up there, walking across the shaky bridge, all by himself. I should mention that there was no food forage involved, so his motivation wasn’t tied to finding a snack.

I rushed up to the observation deck and got a few photos as he climbed down from the lookout and slowly walked back toward the greenhouse:




As I took these photos, I was grinning like a fool, and I called down to Burrito to tell him how great I think he is.

Like humans, chimpanzees experience varying degrees of anxiety and fear. In some ways, Burrito shows more anxiety than some of the other chimpanzees. It took him a long time to get comfortable in the greenhouse when it was first completed in 2010, even when the ladies were spending the majority of their time out there (read this blog post from Elizabeth from March 2010 and watch the video of Burrito finally making a breakthrough and spending some time in the greenhouse).

And now, this summer, five years after the chimpanzees were given the 2-acre outdoor habitat that we call Young’s Hill, they are still continuing to gradually embrace and explore their autonomy.

I wonder what they will be doing five years from now.


Your Inner Chimp

Friday, October 7th, 2016

You’ve got a chimpanzee lurking inside of you. This might come as a surprise, I know. But you might as well embrace it because whether you like it or not, your inner chimp will always find a way to reveal himself.

Under certain conditions, your sympathetic nervous system launches a cascade of seemingly useless hormonal and muscular reactions that betray your evolutionary history. Technically, it’s called piloerection, and if you read this blog regularly you likely know what this means. Others may know it as goosebumps.

Humans tend to get goosebumps under two conditions: when we are emotionally excited, most often due to fear or surprise, and when we are cold. Why does this happen? Our chimpanzee cousins have the answer.

Many animals have an automatic response to fear that involves making themselves look bigger than they really are – think about a dog raising her hackles, a cat arching her back, or a cobra unveiling its hood. Chimpanzees respond to danger similarly by unconsciously contracting tiny muscles around their hair follicles, thereby making their hand stand on end. Piloerection can turn a small, goofy chimpanzee like Burrito into a fearsome and formidable presence.




Piloerection, therefore, is the body’s way of protecting itself through intimidation. So what does it have to do with cold weather? In addition to making chimps appear larger, piloerection can also help to insulate them by trapping air between the hair and skin. It’s like changing out your sweater for a nice puffy parka.


In humans, piloerection is a vestigial trait. Since we split from our shared ancestor millions of years ago, we’ve lost much of our body hair but retained the biological response of raising what little hair we have left when our adrenaline gets pumping. But for chimpanzees, it remains a useful way to protect themselves from both cold temperatures and the dangers of physical conflict. So the next time you get goosebumps – whether it’s because you heard something go bump in the night or because you left your jacket at home – just think of it as your inner chimp trying to get out.