I am a member of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest’s Direct Care Committee, and I recently traveled to Pennsylvania to meet the future chimpanzee residents of CSNW. It was incredible to spend time with these seven individuals. They are all amazing! Like you, I am really looking forward to helping get them into sanctuary. They really, really deserve it. This is my first post about the visit and I have chosen to write about Burrito. More posts will follow in the coming weeks that describe my experiences with the other chimpanzees. Hopefully this added information about the chimpanzees’ personalities will inspire you to become a Chimpanzee Pal with one of our future residents! Burrito already has one Pal that I know of – the folks at MailChimp, a company providing email marketing services. Read MailChimp’s blog post about their donation to the sanctuary and sponsorship of Burrito.
I just had to write about Burrito first. Being the only male within a group of six females, as well as the youngest chimpanzee, he certainly stands out. Personally, I am drawn to rambunctious adolescent male chimpanzees and their playfulness. Although Burrito is going on 25 (far from chimpanzee adolescence) I can tell he still has some bad-boy teenage qualities. He spent the first 30 minutes of my visit shaking the doors of his small enclosure. At Buckshire, there are four interconnected cages each the size of a small bathroom. All seven chimpanzees currently live together in this small space. Although the cages are attached, Burrito spent most of his time in the cage closest to the door of the building. Rattling the cage door was his display – a chimpanzee’s way of letting an outsider know they have entered his turf, as small as that turf may be. His rattling was rhythmic and persistent and quite loud in the small space. It was also almost completely ignored by the rest of the chimpanzees of the group. This made me realize two things – that Burrito does this quite frequently, and that his female companions really don’t take him too seriously.
Once he had made his point about me entering his territory, he calmed down and I was able to engage him in some play. I crouched down, clapped my hands, slapped the floor and slowly started to walk away from him, looking back as I did. Burrito read these signals and began a game of chase with me – he on his side of the cage, and me in the narrow corridor between the cages and the window-less wall that constitutes the chimpanzees only “view.”
There is nothing that makes me happier than playing with chimpanzees, but playing chase with Burrito made me happy and sad at the same time. I was thrilled that he trusted me enough so soon to show his playful side, but I was so sad to be trying to play chase in these cramped quarters and to know that I would have to leave him there in a few short hours.
I can’t wait to be part of providing him with what he needs and deserves in his new sanctuary home. I know that my support of the sanctuary will ensure that Burrito has lots of toys to either play with or destroy (I suspect the latter), and that there will never be a day that will go by without Burrito having an opportunity to play a good game of chase.