Posts Tagged ‘primate rescue’

Saving Dora

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Foxie has an interesting relationship with her dolls. She almost always carries at least one with her, and we wouldn’t think of putting out the enrichment for the day and not including a handful (or several handfuls) of trolls and Doras. As much as Foxie likes having her dolls with her, she also doesn’t mind being separated from them – temporarily. She’ll toss one to a caregiver, or Jamie will swipe one to entice Foxie into a game of keep-away. But Foxie almost always reaches a point where enough is enough and she wants her “baby” back.

Today a Dora doll was stuck in a toy and Foxie was determined to get it out.

After awhile, Foxie had had enough and grew increasingly upset. With one final pull, she freed Dora, and then screamed at the offending toy for good measure.

Roasted pears on snow, a delicacy

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

‘Tis the season for roasting and baking foods for the chimpanzees! They’ve had baked sweet potatoes almost everyday this week and they LOVE it! Food squeaks echo throughout the chimp house when they see the caramelized glaze on the potatoes. Yum! We’ve been experimenting with roasting some other foods, too, to mix things up a bit. Beets, carrots, and pears have all been a huge hit.

Today volunteer Sandra and I baked some pears with the plan to put a couple out as a forage after we cleaned the chimpanzees’ playroom. Here’s the before and after shots:



I turned off the oven well before we were done cleaning but the pears were still pretty hot when it was time to set up the forage. So we came up with a nice way to cool them off—use them as a topping on some snow!


Sandra filled bowls up with fresh snow that fell this morning and scattered bits of roasted pear on top. All the chimpanzees huddled around the door as we set up the forage, pant hooting and food squeaking with excitement.

Jamie did not hesitate in grabbing as many bowls as she possibly could. Luckily we scattered many bowls around so everyone got to have a few, but Jamie got the biggest haul. It also helped that she used a box as a collection device. She pulled her box around and added bowls to it as she went through the playroom, as a sort of shopping cart.



Once she had collected everything she could, she sat down to enjoy her snow and roasted pear snack.





Ebola and Great Ape Conservation

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

There are many questions about how this year’s Ebola outbreak started, how it spread so quickly, and how to prevent it from spreading further—but what does Ebola have to do with non-human great ape conservation?

It is known that Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever is transmitted by coming into direct contact with bodily fluids of someone infected and showing symptoms of the virus, a cadaver of someone who died from the virus, or the fluids or meat of an infected animal.

Bushmeat is the meat of any non-domesticated animal that is consumed by humans. In Africa, bushmeat is not only consumed locally, but it is exported worldwide. Many bushmeat species are endangered, in which cases the hunting of those species is illegal. Still, these animals are hunted, and their meat is sold on the black market and exported to other countries, including the United States. No one really knows just how many pounds of illegal bushmeat are smuggled into the U.S., because it is believed only a fraction of the imports are confiscated—but estimates range from hundreds of thousands to millions of pounds per year.

While habitat loss is the largest long-term threat to African ape populations, hunting for bushmeat has risen in the last couple of decades as the most significant immediate threat—and could cause species extinction if the practice continues to grow. However, with the emergence of the deadly Ebola virus, more people have begun to tune into the problem. Though research shows that fruit bats serve as hosts to the Ebola virus and are believed to be the direct source of the current outbreak, consumption of infected ape meat has been linked to previous outbreaks since the late 1990s. Primates and other animals can become infected by eating half-eaten fruit that have come in contact with fruit bat saliva, and the virus is passed to humans who eat infected animal bushmeat.

The Ebola virus can also be detrimental to wild ape populations. In 2002, over 5,000 gorillas died from an outbreak. In fact, the threat of imminent Ebola outbreaks (and other pathogens) on already dwindling populations has prompted researchers to propose developing a vaccination for the apes. Before vaccines could be administered to wild apes, however, some researchers feel they would need to be tested on captive apes. As we know, there is a push to end the use of chimpanzees in research altogether, so the topic sparked a debate earlier this year (read more on that here).

The Ebola scare has also left African sanctuaries in a predicament, such as Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone—one of the affected countries.




The travel limitations and general panic about the disease have kept people away from the country, and the lack of outreach opportunity has hit the sanctuary and others like them hard. Additionally, with travel restrictions in the affected countries, it is harder for volunteers to help with the day-to-day work. The sanctuaries have had to hire more local staff, causing their funds to be stretched thin. Recently, the Chimpanzee Conservation Center in Guinea has been impacted by this trouble as well. Thankfully, no apes in sanctuaries have contracted Ebola, and all the caregivers have been taking extra hygiene precautions to make sure everyone stays healthy.

Though the direct threat to great apes from Ebola is reason for concern, it’s possible that the attention on Ebola could have a positive impact on ape conservation and help prevent future outbreaks in human populations. Unlike other pandemics and deadly pathogens, which are able to sustain in human populations long-term, Ebola is a unique virus in that it comes and goes sporadically in humans in the form of destructive outbreaks. So far these outbreaks seem to have originated from human contact with infected wildlife. With effective education in local communities, and efforts to take legal action against logging, prevention of hunting and eating bushmeat can save countless lives—of both human and nonhuman apes.




From scrawny to brawny

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

When the chimpanzees first arrived at CSNW six and a half years ago, they were frail, weak, almost sickly ghosts of themselves. Through the years we have seen their once physically and mentally deprived selves transform into thriving, healthy, and fit chimpanzees full of personality.

The other day Jamie was sitting on a step in one of the front rooms and it struck me how strong her thigh muscles have become from her daily perimeter walks. It’s really very impressive!


She’s really come a long way. These photos from the first days in sanctuary really highlight her fragile, atrophied leg muscles.


In this photo you can see not only how scrawny and skinny her legs look, but also how much she plucked her hair from her belly while in the lab, likely due to sheer boredom:


Sanctuary has provided Jamie the opportunity to patrol her territory, stretch her legs, and keep her mind active. Her life now is full of so much enrichment—both for mental stimulation and physical activity—that she doesn’t get as bored as she used to.

Of course, captivity is not perfect and Jamie still does pluck her belly every now and then, perhaps because it became a habit but also possibly due to periods of boredom. No matter how great we make her environment, we can never recreate the life she and all captive chimpanzees should have had in the wild. But for Jamie, the next best thing is taking walks around Young’s Hill while her caregivers follow along on the other side of the fence—always with at least one of her favorite boots, of course!



web Jamie boot walk bamboo background IMG_0933

Ever the Charmer

Monday, December 8th, 2014

I know it’s best to avoid speaking in absolutes, but I believe it is actually impossible not to love Burrito. He’s a blustery, macho male chimpanzee with equal parts little boy charm. For all his swagger, he has a certain vulnerability that is so endearing.




Enrichment in Boxes Day

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Each day at the sanctuary has a daytime and an evening enrichment theme. Having these themes helps volunteers and staff select various objects to offer the chimpanzees. It’s not that the chimps know what each theme is, like “Red Day” or “Giant Pile Day” or “Things in Bags Day;” it is more that the themes help staff and volunteers make sure to mix up the enrichment that is offered each day (and night) and the ways in which it is offered.

One of the recent themes was “Enrichment in Boxes Day,” which entailed volunteers putting various items like troll and dora dolls, socks, scarves, straws, bandanas, wooden toys, etc. into boxes. We put the boxes with all of those items in them into each of the enclosures after we finished cleaning yesterday.

We caught Foxie checking out one of the boxes in the Playroom. Can you guess what she was after?









Watching Foxie stick her hand into the box of “unknown” is something that really struck me. Elizabeth literally said “She never would have done that six years ago.” She was right. Without knowing Foxie’s early years at the sanctuary, one might think that she has always loved troll and dora dolls. But, that has not always been the case. When she first arrived, she did not want anything to do with the enrichment or blankets that were offered each day. She actually went out of her way to avoid all of it.

Throughout the past six plus years, Foxie has grown by leaps and bounds. She has gained confidence to explore Young’s Hill (and even joins Jamie on her patrol sometimes), she continues to try new things, and as Katelyn wrote in a recent post, she has grown to trust humans with her “babies.” Who would have imagined that one piece of enrichment would have such a dramatic effect on the transformation of Foxie chimpanzee?


Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Jamie knows that the best way to get Foxie’s attention is to get between her and one of her beloved dolls.

On the 5th Day of Thanks

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

This thanking business is so much fun!

Today we are sending loud, boisterous chimpanzee-style pant hoot thanks to all of the foundations and organizations who have supported the sanctuary with grants.

The sanctuary does not receive any government support. While the majority of cash donations to the sanctuary come from individuals, we have also been fortunate to have received private grants from some really incredible organizations and foundations.

Sometimes these grants are for specific projects, such as the National Anti-Vivisection Society grant earlier this year that helped pay for the back-up generator for the chimp house (along with a donation from the Youngs), the ASPCA grant that paid for the wildfire sprinkler system, and a Yakama Cares grant that paid for essentials (namely the rental of the port-o-potty!) for our Summer Visitor program.

observation deck

Often, grants are for general operating expenses. It’s difficult to express how affirming it is to receive grants, knowing that the granting organization has a limited amount of funds to distribute. Receiving grants for general operating funds can be particularly affirming because the grantor acknowledges the importance of the day to day care of the chimpanzees and the costs involved in operating the sanctuary.

Grants, just like donations from individuals, impart a responsibility on us to use the gift effectively and in partnership with the grantor.

We are very proud to have received, in the last year and a half, tens of thousands of dollars towards general operating funds from the American Anti-Vivisection Society, the Summerlee Foundation, the Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation, the Tony Stewart Foundation, and grants from two foundations that are in the process of closing down. Earlier this year we were also incredibly excited to receive a grant from Bob Barker’s DJ&T Foundation.

All of these granting organizations support other amazing nonprofits, and we are so thrilled to be a part of their good works.

Just like individual donations, the chimpanzees have truly benefited from these gifts. It is difficult to imagine their lives of desperation before coming to the sanctuary, and there are not thanks enough in the world to express to those who have not only helped get the chimpanzees out of that situation, but who continue to support their new leases on life that allow them to be…


goofy like Burrito

burrito with stuffed fish




relaxed like Jody:

jody nesting

Jody nesting


and serene like Annie:

Annie serene

annie portrait fr4 1

Take Action Tuesday: One Direction’s wrong turn

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

EOA take action tuesday

Last month, we sent out an action alert about the band One Direction’s new music video with a chimpanzee named Eli. Several advocacy groups, experts, and supporters from around the world wrote to the band, but so far we haven’t heard any kind of commitment from the boys to avoid working with apes in future productions. Since their new album is releasing next week, we want to continue to put pressure on the band and ask that they make the pledge before their album release—and until they do, we will spread the word to fans and tell them not to buy the album.

Many of our readers are aware of the tragic lives of chimpanzees in entertainment—chimps like Jamie, for instance, live with trainers when they are young and when they are too big to be managed, they have to live inside a cage for the rest of their lives. Jamie is lucky to have reached a sanctuary, but many others have not had that chance. Some of Eli’s trainer’s former chimp “actors” have been cast off to decrepit roadside zoos. The trainer himself, Steve Martin, has been cited numerous times for things such as failure to have an environmental-enhancement program to promote the psychological well-being of primates, failure to supply adequate shelter from the elements and inadequate ventilation, failure to provide animals with minimum space, filthy cages, and improper feeding.


We’re so disappointed that the One Direction band members are promoting the exotic animal trade rather than using their celebrity statuses to protect chimpanzees, who are critically endangered in the wild.

We urge you to continue to put pressure on One Direction to remove the photos and promise to never use apes again. Please post on their Facebook and Twitter pages and let them know that chimps like Eli should not be used in entertainment. Not only are there numerous welfare concerns, but seeing chimpanzees in close contact with humans perpetuates the idea that they can be treated as pets.

You may also send a letter to the band c/o Lisa Wolfe at

Sample Comment on One Direction’s Facebook:

I am disappointed to see that One Direction went ahead and included clips with Eli in the Steal My Girl video, despite hearing from concerned advocates. Chimpanzees do not belong in music videos and you should know that Eli’s trainer is cited for dozens of animal welfare violations ( Showing these images perpetuates the idea that chimps make good pets. Please make the compassionate decision pledge to never exploit great apes for entertainment purposes again. I won’t be buying your new album until you make that promise, and I’ll tell all my friends to do the same. Thank you for your consideration of my comments on this urgent matter.

Sample Tweets to One Direction:

@OneDirection sad to see Eli in #StealMyGirlVideo. I won’t buy your new album until you pledge to never use apes again!

@Louis_Tomlinson @zaynmalik Eli had a nasty chain on his neck in the #StealMyGirlVideo pics! Please promise you won’t work with apes again.

We would love to see Eli and all remaining chimpanzees in entertainment reach a sanctuary, so they can receive the lifetime quality care they deserve and get a second chance at life like Jamie. We’d love to hear stories about sanctuary life someday for Eli and others like this one of Jamie:

This morning, new volunteer caregiver-in-training Lizz kept Jamie busy for quite awhile by dropping a piece of banana just outside the fencing. Jamie first used a magazine, but when that didn’t help much, Denice gave her a plastic tube which was much more helpful. Once she got the banana up against the fencing she used her fingers to delicately move the banana to spot where she could pull it through. We’ve talked a lot before about Jamie’s knack for projects and keeping busy, but when she’s not working on various projects—she’s quite talented at nest-making, and consequently, nap-taking.



The final thing you can do to help Eli is to spread the word! Please share this blog on social media and encourage your friends to speak up for him, too.

Kongs for Evening Enrichment

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Another one of our evening enrichment puzzles is putting nuts, peanut butter or mashed up banana into holes in kongs. The chimpanzees use their fingers or a tool (or a combination of both) to get at the tasty treats inside, but sometimes the treats can be pretty tough to get out.

Jamie spent the better part of the morning working on her kong that was left over from the previous evening. Evidently, there was a hazelnut that was trapped inside and she could not free it. She tried using all the tools at her disposal, including her finger, her tongue, the arm of a troll doll, and a short wooden tool. When none of them worked I offered her a hard plastic chop stick to use.