Nothing fulfills my heart more than caring for the chimpanzees. Making their days better in every way we can, whether it’s ensuring their home is clean, they have fresh, healthy and exciting foods to eat, making sure they have interesting and evolving enrichment to keep their intelligent and curious minds active, that they have the best healthcare possible provided by not only qualified professionals, but by people who provide that care from their hearts, who treat the chimpanzees with dignity, acceptance and love for the unique individuals they are. It’s truly incredible to work somewhere where you can say you believe, wholeheartedly, that every single thing that is done, at every level of the organization, is done with each chimpanzee’s well-being as the priority. Always. I can say that, and I’m immeasurably grateful.
And as much as all of that is an amazing gift to be able to provide them, it’s also the tiny, daily moments of care that make my heart really sing. Things like knowing that when Burrito is blowing raspberries at bed-time it’s because he’s asking for his “bedtime ice.” Knowing that Jamie wants her boots and books for the night left for her before you go. Even just knowing that she likes her carrots peeled. It’s knowing that when Willy B sits on his beloved leopard blanket and spurts at you while looking at the TV that he wants his movies turned on, or when he looks at your pocket he wants some screen time with the iPhone. Or when Mave quietly walks away while you’re serving something it’s because she’s going to wait for you upstairs or around the corner where she can enjoy it in peace. It’s knowing to put the giant wolf blanket in the front room nearest the outdoor chute because Honey B loves to nest with it outside most of all. It’s knowing when you hear Foxie blowing Bronx cheers she’s calling your name because she needs something. Maybe a doll, maybe to play, or maybe just to say hi. I could list a thousand and one tiny, magical and mystical moments. A daily sacred weaving, the tapestry of their strong spirits hopefully reinforced with each thread of love and honoring from our hearts to theirs.
Even just being able to provide lunch forages on Young’s Hill because you know it’s the perfect Pacific Northwest chimpanzee (and human) weather and it will bring joy and interest to their day.
Burrito, Annie and Jamie:
Foxie felt her bottom lip was a good place to hold her apple while she continued foraging:
Dear Jo, enjoying her leek from the raceway to Young’s Hill, her patented “dinosaur noises” of delight heard across the sanctuary:
Some tiny whole apples were a big hit in the forage:
And can you believe these glorious new greenhouses?!! Honey B has been banging on the windows and was telling Chad it’s really fine if he just let her in there! She’s ready!! I don’t blame her – I’d live in there if I could! The new bamboo has been planted and we hold hopes it will survive the chimpanzees. Since Farmer Jody won’t be in these greenhouses, they might have a chance. 😉 This is the view from the upstairs of one of the new playrooms, with the valley and river below:
These two views are from below:
We all cannot WAIT for the three to have access to these amazing spaces and we cannot wait, with all of you, to welcome home Cy, Lucky, Rayne, Gordo, Terry, and Dora! To see what they choose to do with their new lives here, to have the honor of witnessing where and how they choose to bloom.
When Mave, Willy B and Honey B were first given access to the new playrooms I couldn’t get over how much they just blossomed, instantly came alive in new and intriguing ways that we’d not yet seen. It made my heart burst for them. But I can’t say it wasn’t tinged with a bit of sadness as well. Even though they’d seemed perfectly happy with their previous spaces, I also realized that like all chimpanzees in captivity, it was because they had to be. The truth is, it’s heartbreaking when we inevitably have to acknowledge that there are limits on what’s possible for them because of the lives that humans have created for them.
But the opposite of that is also true. Here we are mere days away from celebrating the seven’s 13th anniversary of their arrival to the sanctuary on June 13th (and Negra’s birthday!) and our virtual auction, The Queen’s Brunch. (Please be sure to join us live on Facebook and YouTube!). And all these years later each of the chimpanzees continue to amaze and surprise us with the leaps of curiosity and courage they take. I mean, twelve years in and Negra decides to climb to highest tops of a structure on Young’s Hill for the first time! So you just never know! One of the biggest gifts of true sanctuaries are that they provide each individual chimpanzee the space and time to explore, grow and heal in whatever way they need. As much as possible, to take true agency over their lives. YOU make that possible for them each and every day. Not a single moment of care provided for each of these special individuals would be possible without you. And from our hearts, we truly thank you.
If you’ve made it this far, I’m going to end this evening with this bonus Burrito photo! Burrito is nuts for this tub lately (see this adorable video that Diana posted on Saturday)! Half the time we catch him just sitting in it, as if he’s sailing the high seas out there. And I forgot to share last week that I heard him playing with it, but when I went to see what he was doing I saw the tub upside down, Burrito nowhere in sight. I called him and out popped his head from UNDER the tub, just like a turtle! I only had an iPhone on me, but couldn’t resist this guy, in his beloved tub of a boat, holding fast to Dora’s friend, Kate:
Goodnight, all! And you don’t have to wait for the celebration on Sunday, June 13th, to start celebrating! Bidding is now open for some pretty wonderful things in our online auction for The Queen’s Brunch! We can’t wait to see you Sunday! We have so much to celebrate together!!