Posts Tagged ‘chimpanzee’

Handsome Mr. B

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

I went out to the greenhouse this afternoon to snap a few photos of the chimpanzees—most of whom were lounging in hard-to-see spots, so I was out of luck. However, front and center was Mr. Burrito, looking handsome as ever.





Coconut crackin’

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

As part of the chimpanzees’ enrichment theme for the day, they have been enjoying forages all day! In the wild, chimpanzees spend most of their waking hours foraging for food, often traveling many miles. We try to offer forages as often as we can not only to encourage their natural foraging behavior, but to give them something exciting and interesting to do.

It’s probably the warmest day of the year here so far and we were able to put breakfast and lunch forages on Young’s Hill. What’s also great about Young’s Hill forages is that it keeps the chimpanzees engaged for much of the day as they frequently venture out throughout the day to see if they missed anything.

Dinner forage was set up in the playroom which included sweet potatoes, roasted squash, tomatoes, the best smelling yellow roses from Diana and J.B’s yard, and, the piece de resistance? The chimps’ friend and supporter, Pat C., gifted them with whole coconuts today! As we were setting the forage up I think it was the “food squeaking heard ’round the world.” We broke up a few to make sure everyone would find some and then hid a couple of whole ones as special treats for a couple people to find. Well, let’s be serious, for Jamie to find, and hopefully someone else.

As predicted, Jamie found the first whole coconut and made sure to hang onto it while foraging for everything else:


Thank goodness for those opposable toes:




Foxie found a cup of tomato juice and seemed to enjoy licking spilled coconut milk off the floor:



Negra enjoying her coconut:



Everyone got plenty of coconut pieces, but we couldn’t see who found the other whole coconut. Then we heard someone cracking it on the floor and found Missy looking pretty pleased:




Thanks so much to Pat C. for bringing the chimpanzees such a special treat! Jamie carried her coconut around in a box with her until she finished all the other forage options she wanted. The chimp house is closed up for the evening and most of the chimps are making their nests for the night as they snack on the last bits of the forage. As I type this, I’m smiling because I can hear Jamie finally trying to break that coconut open. Crack…crack…crack…

It’s a jungle out there

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Okay, so, not quite a jungle—but the grass is very tall on Young’s Hill and the weeds are at the perfect stage for chimp snacking! Everyone has been on the hill a lot today, Negra was even out there on her own for awhile!

Even after nearly seven years in sanctuary, we still see the chimpanzees growing and truly coming into their own. I find that no matter how many times we see the chimps on the hill, it will never, ever get old. It’s still so awesome to see them outside, in their element foraging for tasty snacks, and sometimes even venturing to a point where we can’t see them!

It’s moments like those that make us reflect on how incredible sanctuary is and how much you all have really changed the lives of the Cle Elum Seven. Young’s Hill would not have been possible without generous gifts from supporters such as yourselves, and the exciting new projects we have in mind would never be able to get off the ground if it weren’t for our remarkable CSNW family. Words could really never say how much your support means to us, or to the chimpanzees, but maybe a few pictures can.

Jody in the grass jungle:





Negra, all on her own munching on some grass and weeds:







We are gearing up for our HOOT! gala in a couple weeks—the biggest fundraiser of the year, where folks can help sustain the sanctuary and support more indescribable moments like Jody getting lost in the grass jungle, and Negra hanging out on the hill all on her own for some delicious dandelion greens.

This year, I have been helping get all the auction items organized and ready for the big night. I’m astounded by all the wonderful items that have been donated! We have a preview site available, so check that out and decide now what you plan to bid on!


Join us May 30th for a fun night and learn more about the last seven years of moments!

Good Clean Fun

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Today after cleaning the playroom, we put a small drop of non-toxic dish soap in the pool and filled it up with water. The chimpanzees all enjoy soapy water. Jamie sometimes uses it to scrub the floor, while others like to take big mouthfuls of it. They seem to like the sensation of the foamy bubbles in their mouths. There’s no denying it – bubbles are just fun.











Making the perfect tool

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

After breakfast Jamie set out onto Young’s Hill with purpose in her step.


We watched as she very methodically selected a bamboo shoot and headed back into the greenhouse.


As it turns out, she had unsuccessfully attempted to get some peanuts outside the caging using a toy rake. The handle was just slightly too big to reach out to the peanuts.


The bamboo stick was a little too cumbersome, so Jamie needed to tweak it a bit. First she broke it in half, and then she removed some of the branches.




Now that she designed the perfect tool, she could reach the peanuts!





All you can eat

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Chimpanzees seem to have a pretty good sense of time. Even if we haven’t started preparing dinner yet, the chimps at CSNW begin to gather near the window to the kitchen around 4 o’clock. They want to see what’s on the menu and remind us to hurry things along. But every once and a while, it remains ghostly quiet as dinner time nears – no one blowing raspberries at us, banging on the caging, clapping their hands, or stomping their feet. When this happens, it usually means one thing: They’ve started on dinner without us.

Chimps in captivity rely on humans for so much. Those who were wild caught, like Negra and Annie, were torn from their families, deprived of their native cultures, and forced into complete dependence on humans. And in some ways, they were the lucky ones, because those born into captivity never even got to experience a moment of independence in their lives. So when they learn to take back a tiny bit of autonomy, as they do when they choose when and what they’d like to eat, it is cause for celebration. And with two acres and a greenhouse full of bamboo and native plants, the chimps are able to make these choices every day.

Eating plants is good for their health, too. Chimps in the wild eat large quantities of rough fiber in the form of shoots, stems, and leaves. And while I don’t think we know yet exactly what role all of these foods play in their diet, we do know that this type if roughage allows captive chimps to snack all they want without putting them at risk for diet-related illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.

There are currently seven species of bamboo growing on Young’s Hill, and the chimps harvest from them year-round. Surprisingly, the bamboo on the hill seems to be prized most for its leaves, and the chimps tend to leave the fragile (but I would imagine tasty) shoots alone.


A few other species of bamboo that are more sensitive to Cle Elum’s chilly winters do very well in the chimps’ greenhouse enclosure, and send up their tender shoots (Chusquea gigantea shoots seems to be a delicacy) as early as March.


But in May, all of Young’s Hill becomes an all-you-can-eat salad bar. Even Negra will sit outside to snack on fresh dandelion greens.


Missy, always on the move, takes hers to go.


Spring grass is a favorite of nearly all the chimps. Annie collects only the best blades to bring back to the greenhouse.


In mid-summer, some larger plants begin to grow. Most people would consider them weeds, but the chimps think otherwise. Jody likes mullein, which I imagine to be the equivalent of eating bitter craft felt, but Jody must have a more refined palette.


Missy and a few others like prickly lettuce, which we mistook for dandelions for a while until we picked up some of their leftovers – they are just as prickly as the name suggests. Just like in the wild, captive chimpanzees will sometimes eat foods that are physically difficult to ingest. While many of the plants consumed by wild chimps have been shown to have medicinal value, such as the anti-parasitical Aspilia leaves, we don’t know if captive chimps are attempting to self medicate or are just eating adventurously.


The bane of my existence is this wild mustard. It grows so big and tough that it will break your weed eater. But when it grows inside the chimps’ enclosure, it gets taken care of by nature’s weed eater, otherwise known as Jody.

Jody carry weed on head


The chimps could never live on these plants alone, even if they do supplement with the occasional live frog like Negra does. But they are important in other ways. Like tonight, when the chimps all disappeared onto the hill just before dinner, you could almost hear them saying:

To heck with the humans, let’s eat!

Waiting for the rain to stop

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

As is happening in many parts of the world, we’re have already been experiencing a dry start to the season. The past couple of days have brought much needed rain to the area and while the humans are thrilled, the chimp house has been particularly quiet today. In between rain showers, several of the chimpanzees have enjoyed quick jaunts around Young’s Hill while trying to avoid the tall, lush (but very wet) grass. They’ve been up for one lap at a time and then quickly return to the chimp house and tuck away in corners for a nap.

Missy has spent much of her time at the top of the greenhouse, her little runner’s legs stretched out before her, as she watched the rain fall over Young’s Hill from the comfort of her nest.




These feet!


Just waiting for that break between showers, she decided to make herself really cozy:


Watching and waiting patiently:



At last:


Cle Elum Wildlife

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

As many of you know, our beloved (and sometimes troublesome) resident elk, Ellie, has made it a very well-known fact that she is in fact a horse. Or a cow. Or a goat. Or a human! But certainly not a wild elk. Despite her outward friendliness, we still keep our distance—she is still wild, after all, and ideally we would love for her to be more wild and less attracted to sticking around humans.

Today, Elizabeth spotted Ellie up on a high hill to the south of the sanctuary property. We both laughed, saying “what is Ellie doing way over there?” And then we realized, when four other elk followed, that wasn’t Ellie at all! We got very excited to see a small herd, which is sort of amusing when we see Ellie every day—elk really aren’t novel animals to us. But a herd! So exciting.




Unfortunately, Ellie was busy breaking into our compost bin—a very Ellie-type thing to do—so she missed the herd as they passed through. As much as we wish for her to be wild, we recognize that she is a unique being. She probably will always be more human-oriented because of how she grew up. Honestly, I’m not sure she would identify herself as an elk.


Imagine growing up with another species as your primary caregivers—you would undoubtedly have some sort of identity crisis. And though it is no one’s fault that Ellie was separated from her herd and ended up living at the farm next door, it’s definitely not the ideal situation for an elk.

For a chimpanzee, living in a human home is even more unnatural, and not surprisingly chimpanzees raised so closely with humans really struggle with their identity. Elizabeth wrote about “Burrito the misfit” the other day, and it’s so true. If he had been raised in an appropriate social environment, he most likely would be alpha male.

Some other “side effects” to being raised in an natural environment are Jamie’s love of boots and Foxie’s love of trolls. Though these are just part of everyday life here at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, when you think about it for a minute, it really is quite odd. But they are all unique beings and all have their idiosyncratic tendencies. For Ellie, that means rummaging through things, sitting in Diana and JB’s garden, and taking perimeter walks alongside the humans as Jamie leads the way on the inside of Young’s Hill.

For Foxie, that means delighting in these sort of funny-looking dolls with big eyes, crazy colorful hair, and hard plastic bodies. Here she is in a calm relaxing moment with one of her dolls (you can see just part of the troll in the top picture—he/she is out of the frame in the others but was still in her hand).




Awkward Moments

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Although Burrito isn’t the leader of the group here, the other chimps do offer him lots of submissive greetings – it’s probably their way of trying to keep him calm since he can be a bit of a Tasmanian devil. But Burrito’s social awkwardness leads him to respond to these greetings in an unusual way. When another chimp approaches him to offer a greeting, Burrito usually turns away and squeezes his eyes shut, as if to say, “I don’t see you. This isn’t happening.” It seems that Burrito’s strategy for handling an awkward social situation is to avoid, avoid, avoid.

The other day I was taking some photos of Burrito when Negra (right) entered the room and offered Burrito a kiss greeting. As soon as Negra approached, Burrito looked the other way and closed his eyes.



When he thinks the greeting is over, he’ll often pop an eye open to check if the other chimp is still there.


The other chimps take Burrito’s odd behavior in stride, and luckily for Burrito, these greetings don’t last long. Once the uncomfortable moment has passed, he’s back to his playful self.





Reason to hoot!

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

Watch the video below. Maybe you’ll want to “sing” along?


Hoot logo


Get your tickets to HOOT! today!

Pant-hoots to everyone who has supported this event!