Posts Tagged ‘chimpanzee’

Interning at CSNW

Friday, April 24th, 2015

For years, Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest has relied on student volunteers from Central Washington University to help us care for the chimps.  Last year, we formalized our relationship with the university to allow primate behavior students to gain experience at the sanctuary and learn from our staff as a direct part of their academic training. Students in the undergraduate Primate Behavior & Ecology program and graduate students in the Primate Behavior Master of Science program prepare for their internship at the sanctuary through a course called Procedures in Captive Primate Care, which is taught by CSNW staff. Then, they earn course credits by coming out each week to chop veggies, prepare enrichment, clean enclosures, and in some cases, provide direct care to the chimps. They get a chance to learn about chimpanzee behavior and husbandry while giving back to the chimps they are learning so much from.

All of our staff were trained in one way or another – either through an internship, undergraduate degree, or graduate degree – at Central Washington University, and we are happy to be able to help train another generation of primate caregivers, field researchers, conservationists.

Recently, our local NBC affiliate came out to the sanctuary to do a segment on the internship program:

NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

In other news, everything is green here at the sanctuary and the chimps are slowly eating their way through all two acres of grass and weeds on Young’s Hill.









Today is for the chimpanzees and Monica Best!

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Today we are so fortunate to have two people sponsor this day of sanctuary, Monica Best and Linda Miller! Six years ago the chimps’ good friend, Monica Best, officially declared April 23rd “Love a Chimpanzee Day” and she sponsors the day each year for the chimps. Monica has a huge heart full of love and respect for all the special animal beings we share the earth with and she does so much to make a difference in their lives. She shared this message about today: “Love a Chimpanzee Day!  In honor of my seven favorite chimps and all the dedicated staff and volunteers who care for them!!!”

Today also happens to be Monica’s birthday! Her mom, Linda Miller, chose to add even more love to the day and celebrate Monica by sponsoring today in her daughter’s honor and she wishes Monica “a very Happy Birthday.”

Monica and Linda, thank you so much for making this day so special for the chimpanzees! We wish you the happiest of days, Monica, and hope you know that because of you, their lives are better. Happy Birthday and Happy Love a Chimpanzee Day!!












Missy's birthday portrait




Sunday, April 19th, 2015

I could not help but feel incredibly moved this morning, as myself and volunteers Erin and Tanya were cleaning the Greenhouse portion of the chimpanzee’s living quarters. There is a brightly colored painting with supporter names on the one main wall that caught my attention and I stopped to really look at it. There are so many names on the wall. As I continued to look around at all of the items in the Greenhouse, all I could think about was how every component of the sanctuary is the result of a community of loving, thoughtful and caring people.

There are so many components that make up the sanctuary, including various paintings on the walls that really help to brighten the chimpanzee areas. Various structures, tires and dangling fire hoses provide space for the chimps to climb, play, and rest. Countless blankets and enrichment items contribute to the chimpanzees’ comfort and well-being. Even the tools we use to clean, including the scrub brushes, squeegees, buckets, soap, right down to the very gloves we wear, help staff and volunteers keep the enclosures clean. Fresh fruits and vegetables make up each of the meals, while bamboo planted around Young’s Hill and in the Greenhouse give the chimps extra nesting and foraging material. And then there are the enclosures and storage spaces themselves that have been made possible by those who have donated their time, energy, expertise and the actual materials needed to construct them.

All of CSNW, every square inch, every little detail, has been made possible by countless volunteers and generous supporters. These chimpanzees are loved world wide and I can’t think of a better gift to give them than a community that is dedicated to their well-being. I know it can never make up for the countless ways in which they have been wronged in the past, but it’s the best we all can do to provide them a now and a future that is full of hope, love and sanctuary.

Looking around and seeing all the parts that make up the whole got me to thinking, why do we do it? Why do we dedicate our lives to the well-being of these chimpanzees? Is it a sense of responsibility, a way to show our compassion for all living beings, or is it when we look into their eyes, we see ourselves? Perhaps there are no words to describe why. What is your reason for being a part of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest?








Which ever way you choose to support the sanctuary, know that you have and will continue to make a huge impact on the lives of these chimpanzees. And thank you!!! Thank you those who have and those who continue to volunteer at the sanctuary; those who have donated their time, energy and services to help our various fundraising efforts including the HOOT! Gala event; those who help spread the word about the plight of chimpanzees in captivity and in the wild through our Eyes on Apes advocacy program; those who have donated items through our Wishlist, and those who choose to Sponsor a day in honor of a loved one or directly sponsor a chimpanzee through our Chimpanzee Pal program. Thank you for being a part of the CSNW community.


Saturday, April 18th, 2015

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by nonhuman great apes. For a time it was just an interest that added to my overall identity – like how some people like owls, or koala bears, or unicorns.

I admired “Leakey’s Ladies” – Dian Fosey, Jane Goodall, and Birute Gladikas – and daydreamed about following in their footsteps.

In truth, though, my fascination came prior to developing a true understanding and compassion for nonhuman apes. It was just an intense curiosity.

They are, after all, so familiar in some ways.

Foxie's hand holding her foot

So like humans, yet different – exotic

Foxie close-up

Jamie standing bipedal

Luckily, I happened upon the right people at the right time and was ready to rethink this fascination and the historical relationship that humans have had to other apes.

Human curiosity can lead to a lot of destruction when it is not balanced with compassion.

Now I wonder what the world would be like today if humans weren’t so curious about other species. What if we just left them alone instead of bringing them into our world to study them and then use them for our own benefit?

We can’t go backwards, though. The human world has clashed and combined and intertwined with the worlds of other animals. So there are places like Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, where we try to make up for wrongs committed against other species, and we try to demonstrate and spread compassion for our closest living relatives, and for other nonhuman animals too.

Our curiosity is just as strong, if not stronger, but hopefully compassion combined with fascination makes for a more hopeful future for all species who share this planet.

Jamie walking

Burrito looking away

Jody close-up

The Real First Day of Spring

Friday, April 17th, 2015

March 20th may have marked the first official day of spring, but around here we follow a different calendar. It’s not truly spring until the ever-elusive Negra emerges from her playroom nest to bask in the sun and partake in the delicacy of fresh spring grass.

The first sighting is always accompanied by jubilant announcements over staff radios and a frantic search for cameras to document the occasion.


Of course, Negra has already gone out on the hill for forages this year, but always with a laser-like focus on collecting food and going back to bed indoors as quickly as possible. When spring arrives, she savors her time outside.


For a few short weeks, the grass will be sweet and tender. The cold winds of spring will begin to relent, and the scorching heat of summer will have yet to arrive.


This is Negra Weather™, and we will all relish every minute of it while it lasts. For soon, she will disappear back into the pile of blankets from whence she came, only to reemerge when the conditions are just right.


So, from Negra and all of us at CSNW, Happy First Day of Spring!

Take Action Tuesday: Speak up for Eli chimpanzee

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

EOA take action tuesday

A few weeks ago, we alerted you to a new Comedy Central show called Big Time in Hollywood, FL, with reported footage of a chimpanzee in several scenes. We know now that chimpanzee is Eli, who lives at a training facility called Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife.

One of the actors from the show, Lenny Jacobson, identified Eli in an interview where he talked about the experience filming with a chimpanzee. He mentioned that the trainer on set was missing a finger from a chimpanzee bite—which isn’t shocking given the true nature of chimpanzees. Chimpanzees are very strong, and once they become too hard to manage, trainers will discard them at roadside zoos or pseudo-sanctuaries.


Eli’s trainer has a history of dumping former nonhuman ape actors at very decrepit facilities, including Walter, who was found kept in a dark, barren, concrete pit filled with garbage at a roadside zoo. Eli’s trainers also have repeatedly failed to meet minimal animal welfare standards. (

There’s still time to act—the episodes with Eli’s scenes have not aired yet. Please send a polite letter to the producers and to Lenny Jacobson letting them know that chimpanzees should not be used in entertainment. Not only are there numerous welfare concerns, but seeing chimpanzees dressed up in clothing and in physical contact with humans perpetuates the idea that they can be treated as pets.

Your letters do work! Another alert we sent out last month regarding a McDonald’s France commercial with Suzy (who lives with the same trainer as Eli) was pulled after they received feedback from Eyes on Apes supporters and other advocacy groups. Great victory! We hope to see Big Time in Hollywood, FL make the same progressive decision.

We’ve set up a sample letter which you can customize as you wish (click here). You may also post on the show’s Facebook page.

Sometimes choosing the best photos is hard

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

In any given day I may take one hundred or more pictures of the chimpanzees and secretly hope that at least half do not turn out. It’s not that I do not want one hundred pictures of the chimps, it’s just that it is so much harder to go through them and select the ones to use for the blog. There can be twenty of the same chimp doing almost the same exact thing, just at a slightly different angle or at varying degrees of zoom. Today was one of those days when so many of the pictures of Burrito turned out that it made choosing the best photos seem almost impossible. So, I figured I would post the photos of him and let all of you decide which ones are the best (don’t worry, I narrowed the number down from the thirty original photos).

Burrito was being so patient, seemingly turning on the charm while he was being photographed.








Do you have a favorite?

Missy now and then

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

I took this photo of Missy a few nights ago when she had joined Jamie for some “after hours” walking around the hill. I was trying to figure out why I love the photo so much (aside from the obvious cuteness of Missy from behind).

Missy bipedal from behind

Today, while on another walk, I think I figured it out – it reminds me of a photo we took a few months after the chimpanzees arrived during a big rainstorm. It was before there was a Young’s Hill and before there were greenhouse panels covering their original “outdoor area” that we now call the greenhouse. The outdoors and the elements were a whole new experience for all of the chimps, and, without the greenhouse roof that exists now, the rain was pouring into this area.

Chimpanzees don’t tend to appreciate getting wet, and all of the chimps stayed indoors for most of the storm, but curiosity soon got the best of Missy, Annie, and Jamie. Missy was first to look out the door into the still dripping outside world:

Missy in doorway during rainstorm

At the time, I remember how thrilled J.B. and I were that the chimpanzees were experiencing something brand new. We were thrilled that they were able to gather the courage to follow their curiosity. And we knew that this was  just one new experience in a whole line of new experiences they would be facing.

Still, I had no idea exactly what was to come into their lives, thanks to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest supporters. I had no idea that Missy would embrace the two-acre outdoor habitat that was just beginning to be a kernel of an idea for the future.

I had no idea that six and half years later, Missy would run with glee across the 2-acres everyday:

Missy running


Exploring her territory:

Missy walking



Satisfying her curiosity:

confident Missy walking

I can’t wait to see what Missy and her six friends get to experience next, and what the next six and a half years will bring to the sanctuary.



A zoo for an elk

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is not open to the public like a zoo. In general, we like to give the chimps their privacy. When we do allow visitors, we limit the frequency of the visits and the size of the groups, and we always ensure that the group is guided by a staff member that the chimps know and trust.

But we have one visitor that doesn’t abide by our rules.

Most mornings throughout the spring and summer, Ellie the wild elk can be found laying beneath the visitor shelter, waiting for the chimps to finish their breakfast and head out onto the hill. She seems to enjoy watching them, and they in turn have at least grown accustomed to her. In fact, we have even seen Jamie and Ellie taking a walk together around the hill without us.

Jamie and Ellie:


Burrito and Ellie:


Ellie and Jody:


Ellie, Jamie, and Missy:


So I guess – just this once! – we’ll make an exception to our visitor policy. It’s not like we could do anything about it anyway…




Jamie the walking machine

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

When Jamie first started her daily perimeter walks, it was usually just once or twice a day that she would ask us to accompany her (from the outside of the fence) around Young’s Hill. Now, it averages probably about seven to eight a day, maybe even more. She will ask each of her caregivers to go along at least once, but usually three or four times! She really has become a walking machine.

I think if the humans weren’t busy trying to clean enclosures, prepare enrichment and food, write the blog, and all the other things we do in a day—that Jamie would be asking to go on continuous walks non-stop. The other day, Elizabeth and I did a “walking relay” — I radioed her when Jamie and I were on our way down the hill so she could go wait at the gate (the starting point for these perimeter walks) with boot in tow. Jamie ran SO fast to meet up with Elizabeth and go on another walk!

It’s really awesome to see how excited she can be at times, because most of the time Jamie is all serious business. As Elizabeth mentioned yesterday, her moods can swing pretty wildly.

Here’s a couple recent pictures of Jamie on walks:




This one is from last fall, but I just love it.

Jamie looking awesome