Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest’s Bring Them Home expansion project officially got underway this morning.
A few years ago, we launched a campaign to expand our chimpanzee facility so that we could take in more chimpanzees in need. We knew it would be an ambitious project for an organization our size; what we didn’t expect, however, was all of the twists and turns that we’d experience along the way.
As we began to develop plans for the new addition, we were surprised to learn from the DOT that we’d be required to build a new driveway before we could get a permit for the building. We needed to find a suitable location to connect to the state highway and the options on our existing property, located on a long curve in the road, were limited. As fortune would have it, a neighboring property with an approved access location came up for sale, so we purchased it and made plans to install a driveway connecting the two properties. To get a permit to build that connecting driveway, we had to conduct a months-long environmental study. Given how eager we are to build for more chimps, each of these delays felt like an eternity. But at last we are underway.
This morning, Gordy Margullis of Gordon’s Dozing and Backhoe Service came over bright and early from Renton, WA to donate his time and equipment to build the nearly 1/4-mile-long connecting driveway. We are so incredibly grateful to Gordy for helping us with this project – he even took it upon himself to get other businesses to donate towards the cost of the gravel!. Our thanks also go out to Darci, who found out about our driveway project during a donor visit last summer and told her animal-loving employer, Gordy, about our situation.
Connecting the new with the old, with Young’s Hill and the chimps’ Twister structure in the background behind the old barn:
It always helps with donors when your resident elk knows how to turn on the charm:
Next we will have to rip up the asphalt on part of the neighboring driveway and regrade it so that it’s not so steep (to meet code). Luckily we have another generous contractor lined up to help with some of that project and reduce the cost as much as we can.
The driveway is a costly and time-consuming project that we had not anticipated when we set out to expand the chimp house. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the sanctuary’s incredible friend Vicki Fagerlee and to the many donors from last summer’s Summer Biddin’ online auction who stepped up to help us cover the costs of this first part of the project. Because of them, and because Gordy and others have helped keep those costs as low as possible, we can put more of our resources towards the expansion and, ultimately, getting more chimps to sanctuary.
Speaking of the expansion, we are scheduled to begin construction on July 16! Due to the cost of the project, we have broken it into phases. The first phase will add a foyer, a permanent veterinary clinic with a recovery enclosure, a new bathroom, a new laundry/enrichment room, and two small indoor chimp enclosures to aid in quarantine and introductions. Phase 1 will immediately improve our ability to care for the Cle Elum 7 and create a better working environment for our staff and volunteers. It would also allow us to take in a very small number of chimpanzees to integrate into our current group, but only under certain conditions (depending on the number of chimps in the group, their ages, etc.), so there’s no guarantee that this would happen right away. However, we plan to continue as quickly as possible with Phase 2 (a new playroom) and Phase 3 (a new greenhouse) so that we can have space to integrate and care for a new social group.
For those of you with excellent eyesight, here’s a look at what the floor plan will look like after all three phases are complete:
Tomorrow we’ll be holding a ceremonial groundbreaking to commemorate this momentous occasion!