The mornings at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest are always full of hungry chimpanzees expecting breakfast and caregivers getting down and dirty with cleaning activity. Today I thought I’d pull back the curtain for some behind the scenes photo blogging of a step-by-step guide to the a.m. routine at the sanctuary. You may notice a lot of pictures with the chimpanzees behind caging, and unfortunately that is the reality of any captive primate (even one in a nice sanctuary). Please check out Diana’s blog Why are the Chimps in Cages? from several months ago if you have questions about what you might see.
First thing in the morning comes breakfast preparation. Breakfast is made up of a fruit smoothie (with protein powder added), peanuts (mostly to motivate Negra out of bed), 2 kinds of fresh fruit, chewable vitamins, and two small bags of primate chow for each chimpanzee.
The first area we generally try to clean in the morning is the Greenhouse. Since humans never go into any of the enclosures with the chimpanzees, caregivers ask the chimps to shift into a different area and staff members operate remote controlled doors to securely lock the chimpanzees out of an area that we wish to clean.
As part of CSNW’s safety protocol, staff and cleaning volunteers are trained to double check that the Lead Caregiver (the staff member who is operating doors for the day) has closed and locked the proper doors and the chimps are in the right areas so we can safely enter an enclosure without their presence. Here Lizz is double checking the lever and lock controls for one of the doors used to close off the Greenhouse.
We remove all cleaning supplies and personal belongings from the area before we lock up the human access doors and let the chimpanzees shift into the clean area (again a staff member operates the doors using a remote controlled lever and lock).
During breakfast, the Lead Caregiver will also make sure that Young’s Hill is secure so the chimpanzees can have access to it. Here Jody peers out the newly open door to the Hill (notice she is still finishing up her bag of primate chow from breakfast).
During cleaning, the chimpanzees alternate between napping and supervising.
After the chimpanzees shift back into the Playroom, it’s time for the last round of enclosure cleaning (the Front Rooms). And last,but certainly not least, comes lunch!