Posts Tagged ‘chimpanzee’

Wild Chimpanzees

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Don’t tell Missy and Annie that they fall into the “elderly” category for chimpanzees. Just watch today’s video!

All of the chimps REALLY enjoyed the cooler weather this morning and were out and about. I took about four zillion photos, but when I was going through them, I realized I needed to highlight the video clips of Annie and Missy’s Olympic-worthy antics.


Friday, August 26th, 2016

Anna and volunteer Becca got some great footage of the chimps going on the offensive against a snake yesterday. Don’t mess with Foxie!

Facets of Foxie

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

One of the great things about getting to know a chimpanzee is you learn how multidimensional their personalities are. When you first start being around chimps (or reading a blog about chimps), you learn what their favorite things are. Take Foxie for instance, she loves her Troll and Dora the Explorer dolls and she has a sweet tooth (fruit smoothie is always a hit).

Then as you dig a little deeper, you learn a little bit more…

Foxie is widely known for her mischievous fun personality. She does flips and spins with her caregivers and chimp friends. She tests human newcomers by spitting a stream of water at them, and she also plays with old caregiver friends by spitting a stream of water at them. She can get Jamie (who is usually the most serious of the bunch) to roll around on the floor, laughing and wrestling. Foxie is daring and brave, adventuring to all corners of Young’s Hill by herself (or with a doll in tow) and often being the leader in the hunt to find intruding snakes. She is also the peacekeeper of the group, sometimes trying to diffuse a situation with dramatic over the top play behavior. She is good friends with the boisterous Burrito, spending hours in the greenhouse grooming with him. Their friendship has limits though. When Burrito is running around the building, displaying and scaring the group (as male chimpanzees have a tendency to do), Foxie seems personally affronted when he tries to intimidate her. She turns the tables on him and may then chase him around, screaming at the top of her lungs.

Foxie is friendship, courage, and fun, rolled into a small chimpanzee package.

Missy the Disco Queen – Part II

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

As Anna mentioned in her blog post yesterday, the chimps and humans spent the entire day celebrating Missy and her 41st birthday (along with the birthdays of a couple of our wonderful friends and supporters, Deb and Martha)!

As you may be aware, Missy is mad about tomatoes. She seems to never tire of them and I think she’d be happy to eat nothing else. And because she and her best friend, Annie, love to incorporate socks and ’80’s style headbands into their play sessions, what better way to kick off the celebration than with an ’80’s Disco Party theme complete with disco ball pinatas (graciously made by volunteer caregiver, Patti) and cherry tomatoes in socks, along with a breakfast forage!

As promised, here are photos from Missy’s day (and I hope you all like lots of photos, folks!)







Jody was able to get one of the cherry tomato socks (that’s Burrito to the right who was emitting low moans of joy over his handfuls of breakfast treats – I just now realized it’s the only shot we got of him, but rest assured he was happy!):




Annie (notice all the socks hanging on the firehose – Missy got every single one!):


The party continued with a watermelon bowl lunch forage on Young’s Hill:


The birthday lady quickly found one and headed for a quiet spot to take in the view and enjoy her lunch in peace:


Annie also chose to enjoy her watermelon bowl in solitude:


Jody found two and quickly headed back to enjoy them in the comfort of the greenhouse:




Foxie found they were the perfect size to just put her whole face in:


Jamie took the approach of dumping out the bowls and then using them to collect copious amounts of chow to bring inside and enjoy:



And the piece de resistance? Queen Neggie:





Back inside the greenhouse, Negra headed to her favorite sunny corner which overlooks her beloved valley:



A heart full of thanks to all the staff, volunteers and supporters who made this special day of celebration for Missy and her friends possible!

Celebrating each of the chimp’s birthdays and the amazing individuals they are is always a joyous and fun occasion. And as I shared with Missy’s Pals yesterday, the reasons for celebration and gratitude go far beyond a specific date. In Missy’s case, it’s hard not to recall the thought that she almost didn’t make it sanctuary. Diana shared this story in a previous blog post though I failed to locate it. But in preparation for the chimps’ transfer to CSNW they all went through physicals at which time Missy was found to have uterine fibroids and was given a hysterectomy. Missy came through the surgery just fine, but during her transport afterward, she suddenly crashed. It took a lot to bring her back. After 30 years of torture and torment, she was so close to never knowing anything different. It makes my heart shake and shudder just to stand on the edge of this thought. And yet it’s a reality for so many chimps, particularly those who never made it to sanctuary or are still awaiting their turn.

Since arriving to her sanctuary home Missy has shown us she is someone who greets life by opening the door and running into it, arms wide open. With every leap, twist, swing, jump, sprint and full out run she puts her history further behind her, defying her age and claiming a life full of joy, adventure, comfort and love. None of which would be possible without you.

Please know it’s not my intention to end this fabulous celebration on a downer. It’s my hope to share with you how truly amazing each day in sanctuary is for the chimps. And to express our profound gratitude to you for ensuring that every day is one of the celebration of freedoms in all shapes and sizes for each of the chimps, in their own way and choosing. Safe in the knowledge that they are home, respected, valued and loved for the individuals they are.

And to our Disco Queen, Happy, Happy Birthday, Missy, we love you so much!! For all your days forward may your heart and soul sing out loud. And may there be tomatoes. So many tomatoes.

Happy Birthday, Deb!

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by Bruce Wagman in honor of his wife, Deb, on her birthday. Bruce and Deb have been part of our chimp family since the very beginning. Not only does Bruce volunteer his time as a valued member of our wonderful Board of Directors, but Deb is a volunteer caregiver in the chimp house, coming from out of state to complete her shifts and care for the chimps. They both do so much to improve the lives of so many animals and we’re grateful for their friendship to the chimps (and humans!). Bruce shared this beautiful message about Deb:

“Some people just shape things, and make them come out better. They move through their lives with their influence expanding in waves. At home, Deborah has provided the ultimate in loving parenting to all her children, all of whom have had four legs and tails – and each one of them has flourished under her loving hands. At the Marin Humane Society, hundreds of dogs have benefited from her patience and attention. At the Marine Mammal Center, abandoned, stray and injured seals and sea lions and others knew the careful detail which she brought to each one. And at CSNW, she has become a friend to the Cle Elum Seven, dedicated to their care and falling in love with each of them on every one of her many visits to them over the years. It is certainly the case that the Seven have done more for Deborah than she has done for them, but her willingness to keep giving her all to them is an inspiration to us all.”

Bruce, thank you so much for sharing such a special day with the chimpanzees! We are full of gratitude for the difference you and Deb have made, and continue to make, in the lives of so many of our fellow animals.

Deb, we are thrilled to be celebrating with you today! We hope you have an amazing day full of all the love and comfort that you share with so many others. And Burrito would probably send some birthday hoots to you. Happy Birthday!!:






Today is a big day of celebration in the chimp house as it’s also beloved Missy’s 41st honorary birthday!! Party preparations are under way so be sure to check back later today and celebrate with us!

No blog post today, sorry

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is a pretty small operation. On any given day, there are one or two staff members working in the chimp house (one of the two staff members is designated the Lead Caregiver for the day; this is the person who operates doors, unlocks enclosures, posts to the blog, and generally calls the shots for the day), along with a couple of volunteers usually, and maybe a couple more staff members working in the office in the house on the sanctuary property. Occasionally someone’s out sick or we don’t have any volunteers scheduled, so there are just two of us to run the chimp house for the day. Considering how high-maintenance — and messy — these chimps can be, it’s quite a job for two people.

The first four or five hours of the day are spent scrubbing the chimp house top to bottom, with periodic breaks for walks around Young’s Hill with Jamie at her frequent request. After cleaning is wrapped up, the chimps have lunch, and this is usually when the Lead Caregiver starts thinking about what to post to the blog. Sometimes we’ll have captured photos or video of a great play session or some interesting behavior earlier in the day that we can’t wait to share, in which case we just sit down at the computer and get started. But sometimes the morning has been so busy that we don’t have time to think about the blog until early afternoon. In that case, we grab a camera and take a stroll around the chimp house to see if the chimps are doing anything interesting. When we write our blog posts, our goal is to share a story about something that happened during the day, or to share new information about one of the chimpanzees, or to share general information about chimp behavior. Sometimes after walking around with the camera for awhile you end up with a handful of decent but unrelated photos and then wonder how you’re going to make an engaging blog post out of them, or what you can write that hasn’t already been written a dozen times over the last eight years. It can sometimes be a little stressful when it’s already 2:30 and the chimps want your attention, and enrichment still has to be prepared, and dinner has to be made, and you have no idea what you’re going to post to the blog.

Today we were a little short-staffed in the chimp house. Staff caregiver Keri is out of town, so it was just me and volunteer caregiver-in-training Yuri getting things done this morning. By the time I had a moment to grab the camera and see what I could capture, most of the chimps had settled down for their post-lunch naps in nice, private places.

I was able to get a handful of decent photos…









…but I couldn’t think how I was going to tie them together into a blog post worth your time. While I was ruminating, Burrito was insistent that we should be playing tug of war. I was running out of time to think of something for the blog, but in the end I decided to put down the camera and play with Burrito. I knew you guys would understand.




A Guy and His Food

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

One of my favorite mood-lifters is watching Burrito eat. He’s not picky about food; he just wants as much as possible, as often as possible.

Full Spectrum Chimpanzees

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

Chimpanzees are charming, playful and adorable:

Burrito with toy


They are quiet, gentle, and kind:




They are willful, strong, and unpredictable:





They are intelligent, curious, and intense:



They are violent, petty, and dangerous:

foot injury


It sounds like pretty much every other species of animal, including our own, doesn’t it? We tend to show more of their adorable and playful sides than we do of their other sides, but we  respect the full spectrum of who they are. It really can be pretty intense to be a chimpanzee. They tend to be drama queens (and kings). Their dramas are, in my opinion, way more interesting than any reality television show.

Tonight, for example, the after-dinner enrichment was kongs filled with spiralized zucchini noodles in peanut sauce (are you jealous?). Jamie was a little later coming to the party than the other chimpanzees, which is nice, because that meant the other chimps had a chance to find the kongs before Jamie dominated the scene.

By the time Jamie came in, most of the kongs were spoken for, but she very astutely checked under the blue barrel in the playroom, finding the one remaining kong. She carried the kong into the front rooms, put it down on the ground by a blanket, and then, by gesturing, she asked me for her boots, which I went to get from the kitchen/enrichment area.

When I came back, Annie was in the room with Jamie and had a fear grimace, while Jamie sat calmly a few feet away from her. I saw Annie look at the kong, and I surmised that she wanted to try to take it, but she knew it was Jamie’s. This was a challenging situation for Annie to be in, and it wasn’t clear what Jamie was going to do. I decided to busy myself with something else because we humans try not to involve ourselves in the chimps’ conflicts-they live with each other 24/7 and need to work out their relationships without human interference.

When I came back to see what was transpiring, Jamie had left Annie in the room with the kong and was climbing the stairs to the loft of the playroom. She still had a good view of Annie and was watching her like a hawk. Annie very slowly and carefully picked up the kong, and Jamie immediately started screaming, at first not very loudly, but her volume increased rapidly, and she reached dramatically out to other chimpanzees who were in the vicinity.

This caused the whole chimp house to erupt into screaming, and everyone began running around, banging on things and throwing objects. This is not in any way an unusual occurrence. Chimpanzees tend to be either very quiet or very loud, and minor conflicts occur virtually every day, sometimes multiple times a day. This particular conflict didn’t last very long, no one was injured, and Annie held onto her kong (I think Jamie had pretty much emptied it anyway).

This rather bold behavior on the part of Annie is becoming more and more frequent. Is Jamie’s leadership role as secure as it was eight years ago? Is it possible that Annie is attempting to rise from the bottom of the hierarchy like Mike, described in the blog post last Saturday? I don’t know. Stay tuned.


Friday, August 19th, 2016

Primatologist Robert Yerkes once said, “One chimpanzee is no chimpanzee.” Spend a single morning watching the Cle Elum Seven and you will know exactly what he meant.

A Day in Sanctuary

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

We run a pretty tight ship in the chimp house. Given the decades of uncertainty, fear, and stress that the chimps faced, it’s important for them to have a routine in which they can trust and know what to expect and when things will occur. And there’s a lot for the humans to get done each day to keep the chimps’ healthy, engaged and happy, as well as to keep their home clean, safe and comfortable. Of course, within that routine we add as much variety as possible to their days in the form of enrichment, activities, food, interactions, etc. But despite the best laid plans, each day in the chimp house can be unique unto itself due to the chimpanzees’ choices and needs for the day, staffing and volunteer changes, unexpected circumstances, and a myriad of other reasons.

Take today for example, we started out cleaning the chimp house like any other morning only to end up relocating a mouse mama and her newborn babies, spending a good half hour (successfully!) catching and releasing a hummingbird, and then ushering out a snake and a Swallowtail butterfly by the time things were done. If you’re new to the blog, chimpanzees are very territorial and completely unwelcoming of guests in their home so the chimp house is no place for other creatures and we do our best to rescue anyone whose made a poor choice to make a chimp house call.

Here’s Missy taking a break from chasing Annie to check on our progress in the greenhouse so the chimps can go in for breakfast:

web_missy_waiting_door_x_for breakfast_in_gh_kd_IMG_6066

And in between all the tasks of the day Anna and I took turns walking with Jamie under bright blue skies and in a blazing 95 degrees. Now Jamie often enjoys taking her time on these walks and we don’t blame her. She likes to spend time under the crow’s nest on the Twister structure to check on the neighborhood happenings. Please note the boss lady also enjoys sitting under the crow’s nest for the lovely shade it provides. The caregivers who walk with Jamie, however, have no such luck. So during this particular walk, I sat down and waited for her to decide it was time to move on…


and waited…


and waited. But don’t be fooled into thinking Jamie is so busy she’s unaware of us or where she left us off. (And if you’re wondering, yes, she gets upset if we decide to take the initiative to leave or go in another direction on our own!).  So as it became clear that Jamie was going to be awhile, and with black cowboy boots blazing on my feet like the fire of a thousand burning suns, I thought I might as well make myself a little more comfortable and take them off while Jamie did her thing. Oh, I could not have been more wrong. Jamie immediately turned to me and gestured with her hand to put them back on. So you see, Jamie also runs a tight ship.


Meanwhile back in the chimp house, after playroom cleaning was done we added a new addition of a personalized photo blanket for Negra that one of her wonderful pals sent to her. Foxie was the first to check it out (notice her hand on Negra’s photo):


And here’s Negra making a nest with her new blanket:


The chimps then enjoyed a lunch forage on Young’s Hill (including fresh watermelon and cabbage donated by a guest). And in other news, Annie continues to sport the blue ’80’s style sweatband that she made a bold fashion choice with yesterday. Missy even pulled it off of her during a play session, but Annie put it right back on. (I can’t tell you how this makes my heart smile!):



Later in the afternoon, I found good friends, Burrito, Foxie (and Dora), feeling snoozy in the warm greenhouse and enjoying the summer breeze:





After a small afternoon snack of green beans and cherry tomatoes straight from the garden, the chimps gathered for dinner in the greenhouse which included fresh sweet potatoes donated by our amazing friends at Darwin’s Natural Pet Products. (L to R): Missy, Burrito, Foxie’s ear :), and Jamie:


After the chimps are served dinner, they receive their beloved night bags (if you’re unfamiliar with these, they are small bags of dried fruit, nuts and seeds that the chimps receive each evening). Here’s Jody enjoying hers in one of her classic relaxed poses:


As I finish up this post, the chimps have received their evening food puzzle of frozen banana and peanut butter in PVC tubes and are tucked into their nests for the night in the cool chimp house. Some of the doors are still open and a finally cooling evening breeze is drifting in, and all is perfectly still and quiet. Except that is, for the boss lady, Jamie. A boss’s job is never done. And in this case neither are her caregivers’. At least until she decides otherwise. So now we’re off to look for those cowboy boots which, of course, are made for walking. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.