I started to write the post below a few months ago. I didn’t finish it because I thought it might be too much of a downer, but I think it speaks to the question of whether we would allow babies to be born at the sanctuary. To be clear – there is no way we would intentionally bring another chimpanzee into a life of captivity. I have no doubt that some of the chimpanzees at CSNW would love to have a baby to nuture, and it could bring new energy and focus to the group, but the cost is too high. Chimpanzees belong living free in the wild.
It is not possible for the Cle Elum Seven to have the life of free-living chimpanzees for a variety of reasons, the main one being that they would not know how to survive – they were not brought up by other chimpanzees and taught the necessary skills to be a ‘free’ individual. What we can do, with the help of all of you, is do the best we can to provide for them for the rest of their lives in a sanctuary. Thanks to all of you who are doing this and for asking great questions!
Here’s the post I began in April before moving back to Washington to work at CSNW:
It won’t be long before I am in Cle Elum and I will be returning to caring for chimpanzees on a daily basis. After being away from that work for a few years, and spending some time with the Buckshire Seven, I’ve been reflecting about all of the good and bad that comes with caring for chimpanzees in captivity. Sometimes it is really difficult – not just the heartbreak when a chimpanzee dies, or the worry that comes when watching chimpanzees fight with one another, or the concern that arises when a chimpanzee behavior changes – it’s the daily knowledge that neither you nor the chimpanzees should be in that position. When I was at Fauna there were definitely days when I felt much more like a prison guard than a caregiver. And it wasn’t just because there were chimpanzees throwing things at me (a favorite past time of Binky) and spitting to get my attention (or just to get me wet), it was the understanding that chimpanzees simply don’t belong in captivity, but we have no choice but to keep them behind bars, penned by electric fencing, or surrounded by moats for the rest of their lives.