Posts Tagged ‘chimpanzee’

Chimpanzees Don’t Belong on Either Side of the Theater Screen

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

A story appeared recently in the Daily Mail and Good Morning America showing images and video of two young chimpanzees, Vali and Sugriva, going to the theater with their “handlers” and watching the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The irony is that the two young chimpanzees were exploited for this publicity stunt, and brought into a theater to watch a movie that purposefully avoided using live ape actors… (Read more on Care2)

Angel was kept in a Hollywood training facility and routinely beaten and abused into submission by her trainers. She displayed a toothy grin—called a fear grimace—just at the sight of a camera. Angel was rescued by the Center for Great Apes as part of a legal suit against her former trainer.

Angel was kept in a Hollywood training facility and routinely beaten and abused into submission by her trainers. She displayed a toothy grin—called a fear grimace—just at the sight of a camera. Angel was rescued by the Center for Great Apes as part of a legal suit against her former trainer.

For more on the training facility Vali and Sugriva live at, visit our trainer page on Eyes on Apes.

Thank you to Care2 for posting our op-ed on this issue! Please share the article with your friends and get the word out that chimpanzees do not belong on either side of the theater screen.

Spending time in sanctuary

Monday, July 21st, 2014

As a caregiver at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest one of our priorities is trying to come up with entertainment, enrichment, and various engaging activities for the chimpanzees’ daily lives. We are keen to provide them with as much choice and autonomy in captivity as we can.

For all our effort towards this end, it is always a gift to be reminded that as much as the chimpanzees might appreciate it, they also do not rely solely on it for their happiness and well-being. The chimpanzees are as adept at enriching them-selves (and each other) as we are at enrichment and I wouldn’t have it any other way! It is a privilege to care for these seven chimpanzees but I believe they know far better than I what would be the best way for them to spend their time. Here is just a taste of how they choose to live today.



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Alone time is good for the soul

Monday, July 21st, 2014

**Last week I experienced some technical difficulties trying to post my blog. If you are on Facebook you will already have had the opportunity to watch the video but for those of you who aren’t, here is last week’s blog post, finally!! Please enjoy and check back later for today’s real blog post.**

Chimpanzees are highly social creatures. They rely on a social hierarchy and daily networking as part of the glue that keeps their society functioning. But, just like humans, the chimpanzees benefit from some quality time alone as well. With the temperature in the playroom providing a slight relief from a recent humid heat wave, the chimpanzees took advantage of the opportunity for time to cool off and recharge their social batteries.

Paper bag day

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

First off—today is the Doggie and Troll Olympics! The games are currently underway and although I wish I could be there to enjoy all the fun, Katelyn, myself, and volunteers Connie and Annie are here with the chimps having fun of our own. (If you weren’t able to join the games today, consider making a donation in Foxie’s honor—the troll games, after all, are about Foxie’s love of troll dolls and an early celebration of her August 8th birthday!)

We’re always trying to come up with interesting enrichment themes for the chimps. The other day I noticed how many paper shopping bags we had collected and thought it would be fun to fill them with enrichment and seal them closed so the chimps would have to open them like presents.

Jamie, of course, loved that project—but to my surprise, Burrito found paper bag day to be a big hit! He used them to display with, which is very helpful if you’re a male chimpanzee. And then he methodically went through one bag, but by the time I grabbed the camera, he had emptied it and was using it as a pillow. Who knew paper shopping bags could have so many uses!


Jamie playing

Friday, July 18th, 2014

We’ve often described Jamie as a complicated chimpanzee. She seems to identify more with the humans than with being a chimpanzee, but at the same time, she’s very socially manipulative and runs the show around here. As the boss, there’s no doubt she always has a lot on her mind. Most of the time, Jamie is pretty serious about things, even when she’s playing with the humans. She will ask to groom our shoes or wrists, play chase, or walk around the hill—and we will usually get a head nod from her as acknowledgement that she’s happy about that moment, but rarely does she laugh when playing with humans. Foxie, however, seems to be the one individual who can really get Jamie to be silly. The other chimpanzees are occasionally able to get Jamie’s silly side out, but not as much as Foxie.

The other day I posted the first part of this video on our Instagram account—if you’re not following us there, you should be! Today I got Foxie and Jamie playing again and laughing pretty hard. It wasn’t long before Jamie caught me, the paparazzi, and shifted her attention away. She looked toward my boot so I played a little tickle game. You’ll be able to see her briefly head nod, but not laugh the way she does when she’s wrestling with Foxie.

I’ve always found it interesting that though Jamie is very human-oriented, she seems to really only let her guard down when playing with other chimpanzees. Jamie is certainly an interesting and complicated chimpanzee, but we love her all the more for it.

Guy time

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

For whatever reason, the chimpanzee caregiver field is largely dominated by women. All of the staff here at CSNW at one point or another were students, interns, and/or staff at the former Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, where we all learned the ropes of chimpanzee husbandry. In my tenure there, I would estimate it was about a 5:1 ratio of women to men!

At CSNW, we’ve had a handful of men volunteer in the chimp house, and several more that have helped in other ways—groundskeeping and outdoor projects, fundraising, event help, etc. But up until recently, the only men that have been direct caregivers are co-director J.B. and our founder, Keith.

Well, Joel broke a new record in our sixth year of sanctuary and became the very first male volunteer caregiver. Though all the chimpanzees enjoy new friendships, Burrito is especially excited. As you can imagine, living with a group of girls and being taken care of by a group of girls makes guy time all the more valuable!


Don’t worry—J.B. and Keith are still Burrito’s pals, as well as all his female caregivers, too! One of the things we emphasize during our caregiver training is the importance of building a strong relationship based on trust, and we divide our time between all the chimpanzees to avoid fostering any “favorites.” But, just like humans, some personalities click differently and that is totally fine. Burrito seems to really click with his new buddy, which makes all the primates here pretty happy.

James and the Giant Beet

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

Ok – the title of this post was maybe a bit of a stretch to reference James and the Giant Peach.

I do use the nickname James for Jamie, but, as you’ll see in the photos below, it wasn’t really a giant beet, plus one of the photos is of Missy’s hand, but still – pretty great photos of a pretty great chimpanzee REALLY enjoying the beets that volunteer Patti brought.

It is in the high 90s today, so most of the chimpanzees quickly foraged for their lunch on Young’s Hill and brought their haul into the cooler greenhouse to enjoy, though Jamie made multiple trips to make sure she had found all of the beets.

Jamie admiring beet

Jamie looking away eating beet

Jamie eating beet in profile

Jamie getting all she can out of a beet


Missy’s hand:

Missy hand holding beet


back to Jamie:

Jamie in doorway eating beet

Jamie enjoying beet

Jamie close up eating beet

The doctor will see you now

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Chimps fight a lot, and occasionally they get wounded. Serious injuries are treated under the direction of a veterinarian, but we leave the smaller stuff to Missy.








For the Love of Nesting

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

We talk a lot about transformations we’ve seen in the chimpanzees since they arrived at the sanctuary six years ago, both physical and behavioral. But one thing that hasn’t changed about Jody is her love of a good nest. From day one, Jody has made use of every last blanket we’ve provided to build big, soft nests multiple times a day. I’m not sure anything gives her more pleasure.

We included lots of paper in today’s enrichment, and Jody was happy to incorporate it into her morning nest in the playroom.

Mr. Charming

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

I think it is widely known that Burrito is quite the charmer, as you can see in these photos below:




He seems to lack some grace while dismounting the treat rock, but that just adds to his charm: