Posts Tagged ‘chimpanzee’

Breakfast forage

Friday, March 27th, 2015

It was a nice morning for a breakfast forage on Young’s Hill.

Burrito’s first priority in a forage is always chow. He fills his mouth and both hands, and occasionally his feet too, before moving on to other foods like lettuce and smoothie.




Jody was lucky to find one of the two banana flowers that volunteer Stephanie brought this morning. She carried it with her as she foraged so that she could save the best for last.



Missy always finds the food that we throw up high into the climbing structures. That’s where she found the other banana flower.



Foxie is a smoothie fanatic.


Annie took a few moments to rest on Little Mount St. Helens while she scanned the area for more chow.


Jamie found the cups of smoothie that we hid at the very top of the hill.


She was also quite focused on gathering strawberries.



At first, Negra declined to go outside for the forage, so we gave her a snack in the greenhouse. But we were happy to see her make a brief appearance outside later in the morning.


Take Action Tuesday! Chimpanzee in new Comedy Central show

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

EOA take action tuesday

Tomorrow night, March 25, Comedy Central is planning to air a new TV show called Big Time in Hollywood, FL. The show’s previews contain footage of a chimpanzee in several scenes.

The show was produced by Ben Stiller, who we hope will respond favorably to your feedback — but please hurry! The show premieres tomorrow and we would like to encourage the production to make sure the chimpanzee scenes are not included in the premiere. 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.



Recently, A&E canceled the show Wild Transport after receiving feedback from Eyes on Apes and other advocacy groups about the use of chimpanzees in their show. We urge you to encourage Ben Stiller and Comedy Central to make the same progressive decision for Big Time In Hollywood, FL! Send him a letter (c/o his publicist), and let him know that chimpanzees should not be used in entertainment. We’ve set up a sample letter below which you can customize as you wish. You may also post on the show’s Facebook page.


Sink enrichment

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

Recently we got some toy sinks in the mail, and I knew right away Jamie would be interested. Sure enough, we filled up the sink with some soapy water, along with some dishes and scrub brushes, and she began her inspection.

First, she tried to take the thing apart. When that proved to be more work than she expected, she went to using the brush to dip into the bubbly water and wipe on her tongue. Mmm, tasty soapy water! (We use all plant-based, non-toxic soap, so it’s okay if the chimps decide to eat it).





Once she had explored the sink thoroughly, she grabbed a pencil and picked up the assembly instruction sheet we left behind.

Burrito’s big week

Friday, March 20th, 2015

This has been a pretty big week for Burrito.


Just two days ago, Katelyn wrote about how Burrito has been tagging along when Jamie and her caregivers walk around the hill. It’s a sign of his growing confidence that he’s able to venture further away form the security of the chimp house in the company of other chimps. But yesterday, Burrito decided that he doesn’t even need Jamie’s company anymore. Now he’s the one asking us to go on walks!


All day long, he’s been trying to capture our attention with playful stomps and head bobs. As soon as we approach, he runs up the hill, waiting just long enough for us to catch up before running off again. You can even hear him laughing as he runs.

Nearly seven years after their release from the lab, and three and a half years since their first experience outdoors, we are still witnessing the chimps grow physically and emotionally.

Burrito even played a lead role in a brief patrol today. This afternoon, an unusual bird call could be heard coming from the woods nearby. Jody was the first to check it out, as she often is. Burrito then walked to the top of the hill to join her.


At first, Foxie watched from a distance.


As did Annie.


But soon a group gathered at the top of the hill, and after a brief investigation, they determined that is was nothing to worry about.


So Burrito went right back to his new routine.


I sure hope this continues. I love to see him freely exploring the hill and taking advantage of all of the space that’s available to him. And I’m thrilled that he’s getting so much exercise. But if I’m being honest, there’s one other thing that I’m happy about, for purely selfish reasons:

He doesn’t make us wear cowboy boots.


Take Action Thursday: McDonald’s exploits Suzy chimpanzee in new ad

Thursday, March 19th, 2015


A recent advertisement for McDonald’s restaurants in France features Suzy the chimpanzee demonstrating trained behaviors, such as jumping up and down and making “funny” faces. Unfortunately, what Suzy has experienced–and what her future holds–is not funny at all.



Although chimpanzees may appear to have positive, loving relationships with their trainers, this can be deceiving. Trainers often take babies away from their mothers at a very young age and use abusive, fear-based tactics to get chimpanzees to perform. Undoubtedly this environment causes serious psychological harm.

Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife, where Suzy lives, has repeatedly failed to meet even minimal welfare standards.


Suzy was the chimpanzee used in a Dodge commercial five years ago, which was altered after the company learned about the issues surrounding chimpanzees in entertainment. They took an innovative approach and using CGI, removed Suzy’s image from the original ad and changed the voiceover to mention the “invisible monkey.” Dodge also issued a mea culpa about the original commercial, explaining what they learned from Eyes on Apes and other advocacy groups.

dodge invisible monkey

As Suzy gets older, her future remains uncertain. Martin has a reputation for dumping his former non-human ape actors at facilities with deplorable conditions, including Walter, who was found kept in a dark, barren, concrete pit filled with garbage at a roadside zoo.

Unfortunately, despite reaching out to McDonald’s, we have not received confirmation that they plan to remove or alter the commercial. We need your help to put the pressure on McDonald’s! Please write a polite letter asking them to remove the ad, and pledge to never work with non-human ape actors again. You may direct your letters to Deborah Wahl (, a Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at McDonald’s.

You may also leave comments on McDonald’s France’s Facebook page or send a Tweet to @McDonaldsCorp.

Sample Letter to McDonald’s:

Dear Ms. Wahl:

I was disappointed to hear that McDonald’s France used Suzy the chimpanzee in a recent commercial for Spicy Chicken Wraps.

Suzy lives with a trainer who has repeatedly failed to meet even minimal welfare standards ( Suzy’s trainer has dumped former non-human ape actors at deplorable roadside zoos, and as she is getting older, soon she will be too strong to be managed.

Using a chimpanzee for a cheap laugh sends the message that these amazing beings are simply props. They are an endangered species that should be protected, not used for entertainment.

Suzy, and others like her, deserve to be in a sanctuary. Help put an end to the use of chimpanzees in entertainment by removing the commercial and making a promise to never work with non-human ape actors again. Thank you for your consideration of my comments on this urgent matter.


[Your name here]

If you send an e-mail to McDonald’s, please remember to BCC Eyes on Apes at for tracking purposes. Thank you!

To get these alerts in your inbox, sign up for the Eyes on Apes Take Action mailing list!

St. Patrick’s Day 2015

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! As Katelyn mentioned in the sponsor-a-day post this morning, we love to find any reason to throw a party for the chimpanzees. So today we filled little shamrock cups with almond milk which was dyed green with food coloring, as well as their usual fruit smoothie which we also dyed green. We picked green apples and kiwis for the breakfast forage—and threw in some oranges because the chimps love them! Add some streamers and St. Patty’s day decor, and you have the perfect recipe for a great party!

Everyone loved the drinks. We added little straws to the cups, and some chimps used them while others tossed them aside while they licked the cups clean! Foxie was especially great at getting every last drop:



And Missy, too:



Negra delicately drank from the little shamrock glasses:


Burrito had filled his hands with chow so he had no choice but to lean over and use the straw for sipping:



Annie also enjoyed every last drop of the drinks:



Of course, the fruit was a big hit! Jody was so motivated to get some that she took on some unusual (for her) acrobatic moves to get to the high windows to get a snack.















We also hid some peanuts in little green boxes. Annie was the first to find them:






Jamie, quite uncharacteristically, was not the center of everything during this party! She grabbed a stash of food and drinks and stationed herself in a corner where we couldn’t get any photos of her. But she certainly enjoyed the forage, and we saw her still searching around for leftovers hours later!

Foxie gazing at Dora

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

One thing that has become clear to me during my years of working with chimpanzees: there is often no answer to “why” questions, such as “why is Foxie so enamored with troll and Dora the Explorer dolls?” Or, similarly, “why does Jamie want her caregivers to put on cowboy boots and “join” her on her walks around Young’s Hill?”.

Maybe rarely having access to answers for “why” questions makes the chimpanzees endlessly fascinating. And maybe it also allows us to concentrate on the “what” and the “how” questions, like, “what can we do to enrich Jamie’s life today?” or “how can we make sure that Foxie always has a choice of dolls?”

Today, this was the doll Foxie picked:

Foxie stroke dora


The bite test:

Foxei bit dora


The gaze test:

Foxie hold Dora

foxie gaze dora

Foxie hold dora

foxie holding dora

foxie looking deeply into dora's eyes


and this is Foxie looking at me holding Dora before the three of us started playing chase:

Foxie walking towards Dora


Why does Foxie like her caregivers to play chase while holding one of her dolls? I don’t know. But, as more time passes, the better I get at figuring out what makes her particularly giddy when we’re playing these games.



Friday, March 13th, 2015

To follow up on Elizabeth’s post yesterday, here’s a good example of Burrito’s other side – the testosterone-filled Tasmanian Devil side that leaves a path of destruction and screaming girls in its wake. This is the side we usually see when we arrive to work in the morning.

As you’ll see in the video, Annie was the victim of one of Burrito’s drive-by displays this morning. Being a chimpanzee is stressful, but they have some pretty good ways of dealing with that stress. Like hugs, for example.

One thing you might notice in the video is that Annie also seeks reassurance from me and I don’t offer it to her. As hard as it may be to resist in these instances, we make a conscious decision to avoid inserting ourselves into their social conflicts. If Annie was startled by a loud noise, we would gladly offer her a touch with the back of a wrist to help comfort her. But when she’s involved in a social conflict, we risk upsetting the delicate balance in the group if we inject ourselves, even if it’s just to offer reassurance. At these times, the chimps aren’t just looking for emotional support – they may also be looking for political allies or even backup for an ensuing retaliatory fight. So we try to limit our involvement to a polite acknowledgement in the hope that they will work things out amongst each other. And they usually do.

Besides, no one can comfort a chimpanzee better than another chimpanzee.

Time, Energy and Thought

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

A lot of time, energy and thought go into building and maintaining friendships. Usually, there is an undeniable connection when first meeting one another; a sort of intrigue about what the other is all about. As time goes on and more energy is put into the relationship, more and more details of each individual are realized and a deeper connection forms. And the bond grows stronger, as one another figures out what makes the other tick. These lasting friendships help shape our lives.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to build friendships with the Cle Elum 7. Some of the friendships are low key, like with Annie, Jody, and Negra. Usually a morning greeting (consisting mostly of some head nodding and an arm extended toward the chimps) will suffice. One friendship demands more play time than the others, including chase and tug-of-war. This is often the case with Burrito. Foxie expects me to take care of her troll and dora dolls when she passes them through the cage to me. There is also the expectation that I will pass them back to her too. Quiet grooming sessions with Missy help maintain our friendship. Without a doubt, there is one friendship that takes the most time, effort and thought. Jamie demands me to be her friend; demands me to put on that boot (or boots) and take countless walks around Young’s Hill with her. She also demands that I sit with her afterwards with the boot so she can groom it.

As a caregiver, I want what is best for each of these chimpanzees. I don’t mind the expectations, demands or work that these friendships take. I truly love to see them happy and I want what is best for them, as I would for any friend. Just a few days ago, I couldn’t help but notice the sweet smell of violets in the air as I was working in my yard. Instantly, the chimpanzees popped into my head; flowers are great enrichment for them. These chimpanzees like to eat lilacs, nasturtiums, grape leaves and violets to name a few. So, I picked what violet flowers we had and put them out as part of a forage this morning along with lettuce and today’s enrichment, which was enrichment-in-boxes day. Thinking that the flowers are the first flowers of the season, I thought the chimps would be excited.

I guess I was right, if you count them eating all of the lettuce first, followed by going through all of the boxes of enrichment, then going out into the greenhouse and then spending time on Young’s Hill before coming back in to snack on a few flowers. At least they liked two out of the three!

Here’s a photo of the lettuce and violet forage.


Negra was most interested in the lettuce, while Annie checked out the contents of the box.


Missy was more interested in the contents of the boxes of enrichment than anything else.





Can you spot the flying sock?



And Jamie was most interested in the boxes themselves.




Annie was content to sit on the floor and drink from the fountain after checking out a few of the boxes.




I’m forever grateful to call these chimpanzees my friends.

Content Jamie

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Today is a gorgeous spring day with clear skies, the temperature is in the mid-60s, and everyone is in a great mood. It seemed like a great day for a picnic, so we set up a forage outside and everyone—including fair-weather gal Negra—ventured out for their lunch.

When they’re not outside, the chimps have been relaxing in the greenhouse mostly, but Jamie popped into the front rooms to get a good look out the window to see what JB and Diana’s dogs were up to (they’re enjoying the weather, too!)

I was able to take some photos of the boss in this calm moment. She was happy to let me do so, as long as I promised to show her the photos afterwards. She watched as I flipped through the photos on the camera screen—I took a couple dozen, at least! Once she was satisfied she returned to the greenhouse.

These are the best photos out of the bunch that I took: