Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Sun, Snow, and Friends

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

We (finally) got a sprinkling of snow yesterday, so Anna and volunteer Becca filled up some buckets with the fluffy stuff and put them in the front rooms for the chimpanzees after we had finished cleaning.

It’s a gorgeous day today in central Washington. The sun came out early and has been shining bright all day. The snow on the ground catches the light and makes it look like the world is winking and sparkling.

snow sparkles


For Annie, today was the kind of day that you take a bucket of snow up to a window on the catwalk and enjoy the cold treat with the sun streaming onto your face.


And when her friends Jody and then Missy came by, she decided there was plenty to share:


Happy eve of Christmas Eve, everyone!


And the bravery award goes to…

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

September 20, 2011 was a big day for the chimpanzees at the sanctuary. On that day, a physical door opened for the first time, but the door was also a symbol. The physical door allowed the chimpanzees onto the two-acre habitat that we call Young’s Hill, named after donors Karen and Don Young. It’s opening symbolized the greatest measure of freedom than the chimpanzees had possibly ever experienced.

Freedom, wide-open spaces, nothing overhead, and being out in the elements came with a palpable amount of fear, along with the incredible excitement that the chimpanzees and the humans watching them were all feeling.

All of the chimpanzees went onto the hill that day. But in the days and weeks following, some of them were hesitant to venture out again. Their fears and uncertainty got the best of them. Jody and Foxie, as you’ll see in the October, 2011 video below, needed a little encouragement from Jamie even two weeks after the hill was available to them on a daily basis.



Jody and Foxie have both found their courage and now often seem nonchalant on the hill these days. But it’s still a different space than the familiar safety of walls and bars. The hill is nature – it transforms on a daily basis with the weather and the cycles of life that are constantly in play. It’s less predictable. When there’s snow on the ground like there is now, it can present very real physical challenges getting from one place to another.

Today I watched Jody traverse the snow-covered hill with grace, following and sometimes even leading her friends. Jody is a different chimpanzee than the Jody I met in 2008 and even the Jody that I knew last year.

I happened by a quote attributed to Nelson Mandela that I believe speaks to Jody’s continually evolving bravery. I changed it slightly:


Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave are not those who do not feel afraid, but those who conquer that fear.


Jody against the snow


Today’s bravery award goes to Jody.

Jody standing on metal pole


Jody with snow in her mouth

The great thaw

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

We’re nearing the end of the chimps’ ninth winter here at CSNW and while chimpanzees aren’t naturally cold weather animals, they have adapted quite well. When the first snowflakes fall each year, the chimps food grunt in anticipation of the endless snow and ice snacks that winter brings. As temperatures begin to plunge, they make cozy nests on the heated playroom catwalks and bask in the radiant warmth of the greenhouse.

This winter, however, is really testing the patience of the chimps and their caregivers alike. While most of the country is enjoying an early spring, our tiny little corner of the Pacific Northwest has been stuck with temperatures 15-20 degrees below average for months on end.

But that just makes each glimpse of spring that much more enjoyable.

As the snow melts, more trails are uncovered. The chimps launched out the door this morning knowing that more of Young’s Hill would be open to exploration. Burrito always knows how to make an entrance.

Females often greet male chimps with a submissive crouch, particularly when those males are exhibiting signs of physiological arousal like piloerection (hair standing on end). This, I believe, is not so much a sign of respect as it is self-preservation. You don’t want to get run over by a male chimp in full display.

For chimps, emotional moments are almost always shared through touch. As Robert Yerkes once said, “One chimpanzee is no chimpanzee.”

Missy and Jamie learned to navigate the hill using the fire hose vines years ago, but now others like Jody and Annie (pictured here) are joining in.

After touching nearly every fire hose and climbing almost every structure on the hill, Jamie seemed thoroughly satisfied.

Foxie and Burrito were not content to only freeze their butts off in the snow, so they made snowballs and ate them too.

One of Annie’s favorite places to sit is high up on the edge of a beam looking out over the Yakima River valley. Sometimes she closes her eyes and tilts her head up to the sun. I imagine that she, like us, enjoys feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays on her skin and seeing the patterns that the light plays on the back of her eyelids.

Balancing act

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Each time we build a new play structure on Young’s Hill, we connect it to nearby structures using fire hose. This allows the chimps to move from place to place without touching the ground, a feature that is particularly handy when that ground is covered in snow. We also shovel pathways for them, but hey, tightrope walking is way more fun.

Their balance is incredible, aided in part by those opposable big toes.

And when they lose their balance, they can always fall back on their superhuman strength.


Winter Adventures

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

The sun came out this morning and the chimpanzees eagerly ventured outside for some snow.

I’m pretty sure that Jody was feeling the love from her new Chimpanzee Pals!




Thank you to everyone who is an existing or new Chimpanzee Pal and to everyone who has made a Share the Chimp Love donation so far!


Here’s Missy with Jody behind her:



And here’s Foxie with Annie behind her. The path through the snow makes it a single file adventure:

Foxie and Annie

Foxie & Annie


We understand that Dr. Elliott Sumers, whose birthday is tomorrow, and his family are experiencing their own winter adventures. We hope they had fun in the snow today too!




Fall in love with Annie

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

We are creating and sharing videos of all of the chimpanzees in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day!

Starting with beautiful Annie:


Learn more
about how to participate in the Share the Chimp Love fundraising or how to become a Chimpanzee Pal.


And if the above video didn’t quite convince you to become Annie’s newest Pal, here are a few photos from today of Annie making the most of winter by enjoying the snow and icicles served indoors:


and the biggest snow forage imaginable (aka the outdoors right now):


Seriously, how could you NOT fall in love?!


Jamie’s Mission Today

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

If you are new to the blog, Jamie is our master tool user here at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. When she has something on her mind, she tends to find just the tool to get the job done. Sometimes she finds small sticks and plants on Young’s Hill to use (the 2 acre outdoor enclosure), while other times she picks from an assortment of enrichment objects we give to the chimps.

Check out J.B.’s recent video blog post of the chimps using various tools at the sanctuary.

This afternoon, I was taking photos of Annie in the Playroom, with her leg up in the air, grooming herself. It was a quiet, peaceful moment, when all of the sudden, Jamie came running through the doorway between the Greenhouse and the Playroom. Her mission….

…yes, you probably guessed it. It was to get chunks of snow from Young’s Hill.

Once she dug at the snow, chunks came off and she brought them back to the Greenhouse to eat.

More snow adventures & thanks to volunteers!

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Annie is continuing to show her newfound adventurous nature.

annie in snow

annie standing on snow

The other chimpanzees (well, most of them) were inspired to follow her out into the snowy expanse of Young’s Hill this afternoon.

The pair of photos below of Annie and Jody are my favorite! It’s so uplifting to see the chimpanzees support one another and share in adventures big and small:

jody and annie in snow

profiles of jody and annie


Foxie and Missy were 3rd and 4th out. The photo below is of Foxie giving Missy a quick hug before continuing along the path:

foxie hugging missy


Foxie didn’t have to go very far to find a snack:

foxie sitting with snow


Nor did Missy:

missy gathering snow

missy holding snow


Jody seemed to be in awe of the snow:

jody profile close-up


and dove right in for a taste:

jody eating snow

jody eating snow


Jamie came out after a few minutes and headed straight for a structure. She often takes the lead in adventures, but not today.

jamie sitting on structure


Though she did win points for her acrobatics once outside:

jamie tightrope

jamie swing

jamie swing 2

jamie swing 3


She also found some big chunks of snow to bring back into the building to savor:

jamie smell snow

jamie carry snow


Negra and Burrito didn’t follow these adventurers, but I did see Negra coming in later in the day, and I have no doubt Burrito at least reached an arm out to get a taste.


Before ending this post, I have to express our gratitude for volunteers and interns. This week we have really relied on you!

After being sick for a week herself, Katelyn has been the only healthy full time staff member this week. We’re very deliberate about staying away from the chimp house when we are feeling under the weather because we don’t want the chimpanzees to catch our bugs, so volunteers and interns have been life savers!

Today I’m much better but still not at 100%. I was able to don a mask and gloves to operate doors but luckily had an incredible crew of volunteers and Central Washington University interns who did the (literal) dirty work all day.






Thank you to all of you who give your free time to the sanctuary – it makes a huge difference to all of the primates here!


That Time Of The Year, Again

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

It’s here, it’s here! The snow has arrived! And the chimps know what to do when it starts getting cold and the snow has fallen.

Last Monday, I watched both Missy and Annie (and took the following photos), make the rounds on Young’s Hill, with a very specific goal in mind; to find ice chunks “hidden” within the various outdoor structures. It was indeed cold enough last week for there to be ice, but there was not enough moisture.

This morning, it was a different story. Missy and Annie set out on Young’s Hill to check all the usual spots where ice forms overnight, including in the bottom of this tire swing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get outside in time to take photos of them finding the ice chunks this morning when Katelyn called on the radio to say they had found some. So, stay tuned for more pictures of the chimps gathering their snow and ice enrichment in the coming months!




Missy checked the same tires (but none of the photos turned out where she was reaching in).


Here’s a couple extras of Missy on the hill last Monday that I couldn’t resist adding to the blog.

One of my favorite Missy action shots.

Year One

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Today marks the eighth anniversary of the arrival of the Cle Elum Seven chimpanzees–Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy, and Negra–to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest and a celebration of Negra’s 43rd birthday.

It’s so hard for me to believe that eight years have already passed since the chimps’ arrival, and it’s even harder for me to believe that Negra is eight years older than she was when the truck full of chimpanzees pulled up the sanctuary driveway on June 13, 2008.

truck pulling up driveway with chimps

Negra in transport cage

Because this is such a nostalgic time for everyone who has been following the story of the chimpanzees at the sanctuary, and because so many people are relatively new followers, I thought it would be fun and informative to take this week to briefly chronicle some of the events of the last eight years, one year per day.

Of course I know you won’t want to miss the news of today’s big celebration, so we will be sharing that later today on the blog too. If you are subscribed to the e-newsletter, you will also be receiving an email today that celebrates Negra’s journey over the last eight years.

For now, here’s a glimpse of the first year of sanctuary for the Cle Elum Seven.


EVERYTHING was new to the chimpanzees.


From enrichment:



To the views out the windows:


To the changes in weather:


Rainstorm bravery

Missy standing in doorway


Let it snow!

Annie eating snow, Jamie and Negra in doorway


And the chimpanzees were new to us humans, too. Though we had met them at Buckshire before they came to the sanctuary, we didn’t have the chance to really get to know them until we spent time with them in their new home. We started to learn about their personalities and their likes and dislikes pretty quickly.

Here is one observation about Jamie and her intelligence a few days after the chimps arrived:

Learning about Jamie


And of course the humans, and Foxie herself, discovered her lasting love of troll dolls during her first year of sanctuary, leading us to ask supporters for more troll dolls. None of us knew then how big her collection would become!

Foxie with Troll and night time package


Foxie’s first troll doll:

Foxie and Trixie


Foxie demonstrating that troll dolls suit her fun-loving personality:



We were delighted to discover Burrito’s out-of-this-world food-squeaking:


Touched by Annie’s love of Missy:

Annie grooming Missy

Missy and Annie with big playfaces

Missy and Annie with big playfaces


And thrilled with Jody’s ability to relax:

Jody on Valentine's Day, just holding her feet



Every day of the chimps’ first year in sanctuary was an incredible gift.

I’m not going to lie–we had some tough times as an organization as we were just getting our footing. There were stressful moments, to be sure, but it was so inspiring to have the opportunity to watch the chimpanzees learn more about their new home and themselves. And it was incredible to connect with other people who wanted to be a part of giving them that chance. This blog has played a big role in that process, and I’m grateful to everyone who has read it in the past and is reading it right now. Thank you!

It’s pretty thrilling to think that if you stick around you will also be a part of providing so many “firsts” for more chimpanzees who will be coming to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in the future.