We’ve been asked how the chimpanzees keep their nails short. For most of them, it’s the result of normal wear and tear, but Jamie has her own technique.
Archives for June 2016
This special day of sanctuary was sponsored by the chimpanzees’ good friend, Rachel Ruggeri, in memory of her father, Robert Ruggeri. Rachel shared this wonderful message about today:
“My father loved animals and always believed freedom was preferable to security…for all creatures. He would have been proud to see the gang at Cle Elum find both their freedom and their happiness. Monday, June 6th would have been my father’s 80th birthday. In his honor, may the Cle Elum gang know freedom for the rest of their lives.”
Rachel we are so full of gratitude to you for all that you do for the chimpanzees – for providing them with the opportunity to live out their days with the freedom to be, and continue to discover, exactly who they are in each minute of the day. Freedom means different things to different people and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for providing them with a home in which they feel secure enough to be more courageous, joyful, and comfortable in their own skin, expanding far beyond any physical boundaries.
Robert must have been an amazing person and we are so happy to honor him today! All of us here at CSNW are wishing you a day filled with love, joy and comfort as you celebrate the memory of your father.
Foxie and Dora:
Annie and Missy:
We’re aware that some of the chimpanzees are overrepresented on this blog, while others are sadly underrepresented. The chimps vary a great deal in their sociality with caregivers and in their camera-shyness (or total lack of camera-shyness). Jamie, Burrito, and Foxie are very interactive with their human friends, so it’s usually easy to get photos of them, while Missy, Jody, Annie, and Negra are a bit more reserved.
I grabbed the camera today with the intention of getting some photos of one of the more underrepresented chimps for the blog today, but everywhere I went, there was Burrito. Sometimes you just have to give in to the inevitable.
Let us know which photo is your favorite!
Trying to peek at lunch prep in the kitchen:
In a play bow:
Working the camera with a playface:
Captivity. It’s been in the news a lot, and I know on a lot of our minds.
It is simply a fact of everyday life and work when your occupation is caring for chimpanzees in a sanctuary. We go to great lengths to ensure that the chimpanzees are unable to breach the barriers we have constructed to contain them, and while we do it for both their own safety and the safety of those on the other side of the barriers, it doesn’t change the reality of the situation–the steel caging, bullet-proof glass, electric fence, and many, many locks of which only the humans have the keys.
As a sanctuary, our aim is to attempt to right what we perceive to be a wrong and to give back some measure of what our species has taken from another species, but we don’t view this second chance for the chimpanzees living here as the ideal life, and our friends behind bars often remind us of this. A few years ago, I wrote about my perception of Jamie’s awareness of her own captivity in the context of the shift in how we as a society view what chimpanzees deserve and what our obligations are towards them. You can read that post here.
I am buoyed by the positive events that have occurred for chimpanzees just since writing that post three years ago. We are closer than ever – maybe we are even there – to the end of chimpanzee biomedical research in this country. How did we get here? How did we get to this moment in history where the practice of using chimpanzees in biomedical testing is widely seen as abhorrent from a society that thought it was entirely permissible and within our rights as humans to slaughter chimpanzee families, collect the infants, and ship them across the world to use them in experimentation? There are many specific answers to that question, but the general answer, I think, can be explained by a formula that applies to progress towards greater human rights as well: knowledge + people speaking out + time = societal shifts.
These shifts don’t happen overnight and they don’t happen without resistance. By definition, it takes the majority of people who held onto an “old way” of thinking to either no longer be a part of society or it takes individuals to change their own stance. We all know how stubborn our species is, so the former is often the key factor and is really built into the formula under “time.” But our modern age has given us the ability to gain information and collect knowledge in an instant, and we are quickly made aware of more people speaking out. This allows shifts to happen faster.
As uncomfortable and impassioned as some discussions can get around the practice of keeping great apes and other non-human animals in captivity, I choose to view it as very positive sign that these discussion are happening in a very public way. The proverbial and literal elephant in the room is being pointed out, making it almost impossible to ignore the bigger ethical questions of holding intelligent, highly social, long-lived species in captive environments, generation after generation. What truly justifies this activity?
The thing about societal shifts in thinking, though, is that when you’re in the middle of them, there will be individuals and institutions on both sides. Looking back at shifts that have happened in the past, it’s really difficult to understand how so many people were involved in something that is now viewed as unjust, but that’s the benefit of hindsight. There is no “new way” without an “old way” and the “old way” is something that the majority of people likely had few qualms about, but that doesn’t mean they had some sort of flaw in their character. I applaud the individuals and institutions that are at the forefront of rejecting old, unfair, and unjust ways of doing things, but I understand that some will invariably be slower to adjust–that’s all part of a shift.
Let’s keep talking. Let’s not be afraid of our convictions and our desire for a more just world. And let’s also remember that each of us have different levels of knowledge, exposure to different voices, and may have developed our opinions in a different period of time and societal-wide mentality than ourselves.
In the meantime, let’s be thankful, on behalf of seven chimpanzees in Cle Elum, Washington, that societies do indeed shift towards greater understanding and compassion, and it happens one person at a time. Though we are unable to give the chimpanzees true freedom, we can give them something closer to it than they’ve ever experienced before.
Here’s Missy and Annie enjoying the wild prickly lettuce that they harvested:
Today’s wonderful gift of a day of sanctuary for the chimpanzees was sponsored by Robyn Petticrew.
Robyn has been a supporter of the chimpanzees for several years, and we know she’s expressed a fondness for both Annie and Foxie, so we picked out some of our favorite photos of these two together to thank Robyn for her donation to sponsor the day.
Have a beautiful day, Robin!
Evenings are a special time at the sanctuary. With their bellies full, the chimps choose spots to settle in for the night. They make elaborate nests with the 70 fresh blankets we give out each day. Their nest grunts are a chorus of contentment – a series of soft “hoo” sounds and low breathy vocalizations that signal to each other that all is well. Beside them or buried within their nests you can see some of their favorite things: For Burrito, his wooden toys; for Negra, her food puzzles; for Jamie, her cowboy boots; and for Foxie, her beloved troll and Dora dolls.
Today’s day of sanctuary was sponsored by the chimpanzees’ good friends, Jennifer and David Roers, in honor of Hannah Tracy! Jennifer and David shared this lovely message about today:
“Happy 40th birthday to one of the best people we know. Hannah is an amazing person and a joy to have in our lives. We love you, pretty lady. Have a fantastic birthday.”
Jennifer and David, we have so much gratitude for all you do to fill the chimps’ lives with love, comfort, and care! It means so much to us that you would think of them as you honor Hannah today.
And Hannah, happiest of birthdays to you from all the primates here at CSNW! We hope this is the best one yet and wish you a day filled with all the joy and celebration of life the chimpanzees are being provided with in your honor! Thank you for sharing your special day with them!
Here’s one of the pretty ladies of the sanctuary, beautiful Jody, doing what she loves best: enjoying her forage goods and nesting with abandon!