I’m often told how great it must be to have a job caring for chimpanzees and I have to agree. There are so many highlights of working at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. Of course, there are the chimpanzees, each with their own unique and inspiring qualities. And there are the incredibly compassionate and dedicated staff members, volunteers and donors that work on behalf of the Cle Elum Seven. Add in a beautiful setting and its the perfect job.
The truth is, I love my job, but I really wish it didn’t exist. The reality is there has to be chimpanzees in captivity for me to be a chimpanzee caretaker. But, chimpanzees do not belong in captivity. Period.
A past teacher of mine used to say “With knowledge comes responsibility”. I didn’t realize just how much those four words would mean until I started learning more about the fate of chimpanzees in the entertainment and biomedical industries and those kept as pets. Once I learned the fates of those chimpanzees, I stopped buying cards with pictures of chimpanzees “smiling” and I stopped watching movies with chimpanzees in them. But, I wanted to do more; I felt I had a responsibility to do more.
So, I am trying to do that, by helping to make captivity the best that it can possibly be for the chimpanzees of CSNW. This means respecting them as individuals, giving them choices, providing daily enrichment, sharing their stories and advocating for them and all apes.
These are the seven chimpanzees that I work for.