Chimp Sanctuary

Guidelines for Gifts

The chimps have such a wonderful family of supporters. Every week, we receive packages of food and enrichment from people all across the country. We rely on these gifts to keep the cupboards stocked and the enrichment bins full, which in turn helps keep the chimps happy. To ensure that we are able to use all of your generous donations, please take a look at our health and safety guidelines for food and enrichment.

If you follow the blog, you know that we serve a wide variety of food to the chimps. But for their health and safety, we follow these food rules:

  • Nothing homemade prepared outside of the chimp house kitchen – Because we can never be 100% sure of the ingredients or the conditions in which foods are prepared, we don't give the chimps any homemade foods (e.g. baked goods, trail mix, etc.).
  • No added sugar – We limit the sugar in the chimps' diet to sugar from natural sources such as whole fruit. Captive chimpanzees are at significant risk for diet-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. We've found that with enough variety, chimpanzees will continue to get excited about healthy food, so we're confident that they don't feel deprived. When we do give foods that are sweetened, they're generally used to deliver medication (Gatorade is a favorite). If you do send food, check the ingredients label – you'd be amazed at the things they add sugar to (like dried fruit! Why?).
  • No salt – There is a relationship between sodium and heart disease in humans, and the same is thought to hold true for chimpanzees. Therefore, to be on the safe side, we limit the amount of salt in their diet.
  • No mangoes – Mangoes are great for chimps in general, but we have reason to believe that Annie is allergic to them.
  • No meat, dairy, or eggs – The chimps at CSNW get plenty of protein from nuts, seeds, beans, and primate chow.
  • Very limited grains and processed food – The chimps do get treats from time to time, but we try to stick to fresh foods and whole grains as much as possible. Acceptable grains and processed foods include whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and old-fashioned oats.

Variety is just as important when it comes to enrichment. We try to give them a little bit of everything, but for their safety, we follow these guidelines. Please note that these rules have changed over the years as we have observed the chimps interacting with different types of enrichment. Please also note that these rules apply to CSNW only and that other facilities must make their own determination as to what is safe for the particular chimpanzees in their care.

  • No glass, wire, metal, large staples, or sharp edges
  • No batteries or battery operated toys (even when the batteries are removed)
  • No soft/flexible rubber, latex, soft/thin plastic, or foam, or styrofoam
  • No small beads or beans in stuffed toys
  • No tape
  • No paintbrushes with metal tips
  • No etch-a-sketches
  • No needle point
  • No pens
  • No ribbon or string
  • In addition,
    • All art supplies must be labeled as "nontoxic"
    • Inedible objects between 1/2" and 2" (i.e., between the size of a raisin and a clementine) pose a risk if ingested. Therefore, we screen out these object from the chimps' enrichment. This includes objects inside of toys that could be accessed by the chimps if the toy was broken open.

We understand that these guidelines are restrictive and may be difficult to follow. If you have any questions about an item that you would like to donate, please feel free to contact us.

You can also earmark a monetary gift towards enrichment so that the staff can purchase acceptable items.

Thanks so much for your support – and keep those donations coming! As you can see from the blog, the chimps' lives are enriched each day by your generous gifts.