Today we celebrated our Boss’s 41st birthday with a morning full of food and enrichment puzzles. Oh and there may have been a giant pumpkin…
Archives for October 2018
Imagine yourself in a cage barely bigger than your body. Now imagine that you’ve been in that cage for decades. You’ve probably never been outside. You don’t know what the sun feels like, or the wind, or the rain. You don’t know what the ground feels like under your feet.
Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy, and Negra spent most of their lives in these conditions. Coming to the sanctuary was quite literally a whole new world for them. Even the positive changes in their environment were frightening at first.
Burrito is as macho as any self-respecting male chimp, but his bravado is mostly for show. He’s really afraid of just about everything. He struggles with most changes in his environment. When the greenhouse was new, he refused to step foot in it for months, even if it meant skipping a meal. He’s never seemed as comfortable with his physicality as some of the other chimps. He seems to distrust his own coordination and balance when it comes to climbing and exploring. But it became evident early on that, given time, Burrito pushes through his fears with determination.
When Annie first moved to CSNW, she clung to her best friend Missy like she was a security blanket. Her severe social anxiety prevented her from asserting herself with the other chimpanzees – even joining a grooming or play session was too intimidating. When we opened Young’s Hill, the chimpanzees’ large outdoor habitat, Annie was torn between wanting to stick by Missy’s side as she explored, and wanting to remain in the safety of the indoors. Despite not wanting to lose sight of Missy, Annie couldn’t work up the courage to go outside, so she stayed behind and watched Missy anxiously until she returned.
Gradually and in her own time, Annie started following Missy outdoors, but shadowing her closely. Annie would not go out without Missy, and when Missy came back in, Annie came back in. But eventually, Annie began venturing out on her own and even seeming to relish her own company.
Negra likes the security of familiar places. She prefers the indoors to the outdoors; she seems to feel safer with something over her head. On her first day on Young’s Hill, she accidentally touched the electric fence that surrounds the habitat, and this experience seemed to confirm her belief that outside is a scary and dangerous place. It took her some time to go back out, and at first she would stay close to the chimp house at the bottom of the hill so that if something spooked her, she could run back inside. Over the years, though, Negra has chosen adventure over security more and more. In the spring when the grass is soft and sweet, we’ve even seen her clear at the top of the two-acre habitat sitting peacefully and alone.
When Foxie first came to the sanctuary, she trusted nothing and no one. She’s always been hesitant to touch new enrichment items, as though she suspects they might hurt her. When new structures are added to the chimps’ home, Foxie invariably puts them through a series of systematic tests to determine their integrity, durability, and safety. She carries at least one doll almost everywhere she goes; her dolls seem to lend her confidence when she’s lacking it. Despite her fears, Foxie has an admirable independent streak. She likes to stay outside, alone or with her dolls, long after the other chimpanzees have gone in. She sits on a climbing structure – once she determines they’re safe, they’re safe – and looks out over the valley, or strolls leisurely through the grass that is as tall as she is. She must feel so small and vulnerable, but she persists.
For the Cle Elum Seven, sanctuary is about letting go of the old and embracing the new. There will always be fear and anxiety, but with every day that passes, the chimpanzees are more and more equipped to push through and live the life they deserve. We’re so lucky to be here to witness it.
When we arrived at the sanctuary this morning we had sun showers and a full rainbow over the sanctuary property. You know, those crazy sprinkles coming from a seemingly cloudless sky? And when volunteer, Ruth, arrived a few moments later, she said the chimp house appeared to literally be sitting at the bottom of the rainbow. It does so often feel that this special place is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The chimps have been soaking up every ounce of autumn sun as the rains are starting to make their way here. They all ran out with gusto this morning after breakfast, together, but then each spreading out in their own direction, their own ray of sun.
Jody watching over her family on Young’s Hill:
Burrito wearing his puffy coat in the cool morning air:
Missy on the go:
Annie may have been avoiding snake territory:
Foxie, Dora and Strawberry Shortcake decided to join Annie:
Negra was bundled up in the greenhouse enjoying the remainder of her breakfast. 🙂
Meanwhile, Jamie busied herself today building one of her beloved kitchenette forts for herself and her new pair of boots:
Foxie decided this morning she wanted some photos taken. I asked her if I could snap a few photos and Foxie didn’t seem to mind. Once I felt like I had gotten a few photos I thanked Foxie and was going to turn around to leave. I heard Foxie make her raspberry vocalization, which is usually used for catching someone’s attention. I turned around and asked if she wanted to look at the photos. Foxie came over to look and then sat back on the platform and stared at me. I asked Foxie if she wanted me to take some more and she looked at me with intent. Whether that meant yes or no, I am not sure, but I took a few more and she looked pleased!
Here is Foxie’s photo shoot:
Jody food grunting at the sight of oranges and chow this morning:
If we were to do a poll of the caregivers, or you all reading this (if you’ve been following a long for a bit), I would be willing to put good money down that Negra would be chosen as the chimpanzee at CSNW most likely to be found nesting.
Who do you think would be the second runner up?
I’m going to go with Jody. Is that what you thought?
There is no question that Negra and Jody know how to truly relax. Here are two of my favorite photos of them demonstrating their lounging prowess.
This morning was another GORGEOUS fall day, and most of the chimpanzees headed right outside, literally disappearing into the hill:
You will probably be able to guess who remained under her blanket, though (thanks to Earth Rated for donating these green lovely blankets to the chimps!):
If you guessed Negra, you would be correct.
Jody, despite her love of leisure, does like a morning adventure, so she went out, then back to the greenhouse, then out again, until she finally came back with a procured bamboo snack:
She stopped at the raceway to keep an eye on the other adventurers:
By the time lunch rolled around, Negra too was ready to emerge from her cocoon and soak up the fall air:
The addition of baked pumpkin to the lunch forage may have played a motivating factor:
It’s so satisfying to be able to see the chimpanzees making choices about how they spend their time. I’m glad that everyone got outside and enjoyed this beautiful day and also fit in a little quiet time for napping too.
It’s pomegranate season at last! The chimpanzees love these ruby colored fruits so much, that many will eat them rinds and all!
If you want to help keep the chimpanzees stocked with pomegranates and other delicious fresh produce options this season, the most convenient way to contribute is by sending us gift cards to our local Safeway grocery store. As an added time-saver, we can receive these gift cards straight from our Amazon Wish list, so you can skip that trip to the post office!
Jamie loves a good food puzzle!