What an incredible year. Iâ€™ve been thinking for a few weeks about how to sum up what an inspiring, life-altering year itâ€™s been. There really are no words! But I will try my best.
For me, the high points have been in the little moments. Of course the chimpsâ€™ arrival, the first time they went outside, and the first time they saw snow â€“ those were amazing moments that I felt so honored to be a part of. But the little moments – quietly sharing a stolen minute with one of my chimpanzee friends – those are what hold everything together.
Early on, I remember Foxie seeing herself in a mirror. She was enthralled, of course. She was seeing herself for the first time. She had the sweetest, most curious look in her eyes. I have loved that girl from that day forward!
I remember watching Jamie rediscover her interest in coloring, softly grunting with glee as I gave her more and more crayons to create a masterpiece. Something as simple as crayons gave her such joy!
I remember playing the â€œblow in my earâ€ game with Burrito for the first time. He put his ear up to the fence and waited for me to blow. Then he laughed, switched sides, and waited again. Heâ€™s not always eager to play with me, so I savor those moments.
Just the other day, I stood and watched as Annie did a full display â€“ swaggering, pant hooting, running, pounding the wall, slapping the floor. Annie is shy and not very dominant, and I was SO proud of her for strutting her stuff!
I remember watching Missy sitting against the wall in the playroom by herself. Just quietly sitting and looking around. She saw a sock next to her, calmly put it on her arm, and then jumped up and took off running toward Annie with the biggest playface EVER!
For Jody, I remember the first time she prepared for and then decided against spitting on me. During a meal, she got a mouth full of water and walked toward me, very slowly, staring me straight in the eyes with a look that must translate to â€œI.am.going.to.get.you.â€ As is often her approach, she didnâ€™t spit the water right away. She likes to hold it in her mouth for a while. So I went about serving the meal. And then, when I pulled out the nectarines, all of a sudden she opened her mouth and let the water dribble out the side. I was victorious! And the nectarines were my new best friends.
And lastly, for our birthday girl, I have two moments. First, I remember going through Negraâ€™s file with JB. We had just read about the years that she spent in isolation at the Coulston Foundation because she had some unusual test results. Isolation. It was brutal, thinking about what Negra experienced on â€œourâ€ behalf. We tore ourselves away and went out to the chimp area to take our minds off things, and there waited beautiful Negra. I think we must have spent fifteen or twenty minutes just dancing and clapping with her, and she was so joyful. Afterwards, and ever since then, I thought about how much she gives to all of us. She gave up so much during all those years in research, and somehow she still has it in her to cheer me up when Iâ€™m down. Itâ€™s bittersweet.
Second Negra moment: just the other day, Negra gave a caregiver-in-training her first kisses. Itâ€™s marvelous when Negra pouts her lips through the fence to offer us kisses on our wrists. This time, Negra gave her kiss and then proceeded to demand about 8 or 10 more. If thereâ€™s one thing I know for sure â€“ what Negra wants, Negra gets! I hope someday weâ€™ll make up to Negra just a little tiny fraction of what we owe her.
Thanks to everyone for your enthusiastic support of the CSNW family. We couldnâ€™t do it without you and we look forward to many more years together! Stay tunes for more posts and recollections throughout the day!
Laura Bee says
Wow, that post is a tearjerker. Thanks for sharing your wonderful stories. I loved reading all of the details.
Sarah, This is a beautiful post!! It brought tears to my eyes, too! 🙂 You and all of the staff at CSNW are the most wonderful, loving caregivers that the Cle Elum 7 could hope to have! Thank you all for rescuing them from their decades of existing in those tiny cages in that windowless basement in Pennsylvania. To look at the pictures of them from a year ago & then look at them now, it’s obvious that they are so much healthier and relaxed and thriving! I am looking forward to the many years ahead of watching the Cle Elum 7 live out their lives in comfort, health & happiness! They deserve it so much!! Happy Anniversary!!
Sarah, thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your stories with us. The progress of the Cle Elum 7 has been inspiring over the last year. Watching them blossom and become healthy again has been heartwarming. Those of us who love animals, especially chimps, can’t help but tear up when reading a post such as this. They have given up so much that it is a pleasure to see them being spoiled with love. I have fallen in love with each unique chimp and it’s a love that warms me from the inside. I hope one day to meet them all and of course the staff. You have all done a spectacular job in giving these sweet chimps a better life. Nothing can make up for what they went through but thanks to Keith and the rest it sure can make those times a distant memory. For that, you all have my undying gratitude and love.
Shelly Knapp says
Every single moment, every single person and every single event involved in the evolution of the Sanctuary, from the conception to this special day, has been a blessing beyond comprehension. There simply aren’t adequate words to describe how deeply meaningful this is. Bless every one of you.
debbie metzler says
Here’s to all of you (chimpanzee and human alike) who have given so much! Here’s to the rest of your days playing, laughing, foodgrunting, displaying, flipping, twirling, and climbing and swinging…… Thank you!!!
Candace (Tyler, TX) says
Let’s see this last year:
1) I learned a new word, brachiating,
2) being reintroduced to troll dolls from the 1960’s and 70s’,
3) walking straight to the computer, after I got home from work, to see if that day’s blog had been posted yet,
4) going to Walmart and shopping for items I can send to seven
4) a new city, Cle Elum and
5) caring about chimpanzees that I’ll never be in the same proximity as but because the staff and volunteers are so articulate that their words and videos make me feel as if I’m there everyday.
Here’s to the year to come! Huzzah!
Jeani Goodrich says
What a beautiful tribute to the Sanctuary’s first year. It was a joy to read and share through you those special moments. I look forward to many years of joy, love, respect, and fun!
Sara Lissabet says
Thank you for posting such a lovely piece. I am going to sleep now with a smile on my face – something I bet each and every chimp can now do thanks to all the hard work and dedication all of you have put into providing care for these wonderful animals.