Walking through the chimp house this afternoon, I came upon this multi-player, cross-species grooming party.
While we’re in the midst of raising funds for the expansion (and we will be for a while), we also have seven chimpanzees to care for each day. They are the top priority as well as the inspiration to push forward to be in the position to help more chimpanzees.
The “we” in the above paragraph includes everyone who supports the sanctuary. Donations provide everything from laundry soap to staff salaries to funds to expand. We’re all in this together!
Negra has been a big inspiration for supporter Monica Best over the last several years. Having the connection to the sanctuary and reading about the daily lives of the chimpanzees on the blog helped Monica battle cancer four times.
Monica loves all of the chimpanzees, but feels that Negra is a kindred spirit. She relates to Negra’s need to just get under a blanket and take a good nap:
She understands Negra’s desire to have buddies:
and also the comfort Negra finds being on her own, sitting in her cabin:
In Monica’s words, “knowing that Negra’s safe and just gets to be who she is brings me so much joy.”
Monica is the kind of donor who gives whenever there’s a call to give, so it’s no surprise that she’s pledged $10,000 for the 4-5pm PT Power Hour during today’s Giving Day for Apes.
With Monica’s generous donation, we will be in the running for the bonus $2,500 that will be given to the North American sanctuary that raises the most donations during 4-5pm PT.
Monica hopes you are ready to give during that time and encourage others to give too! She will match every donation up to $10,000, doubling your contributions!
One of the first things new chimp house volunteers start learning is how to identify each of the chimpanzees. When you’re meeting a group of chimps for the first time (or the first ten times), they can often look frustratingly similar to one another. Eventually, of course, they start to look like individuals and you wonder how you could ever have mixed them up. But there’s a definite learning curve.
It helps to be able to spend some time just staring at each chimpanzee, so I just made these videos for our volunteers, in which you can see each of the seven chimpanzees from every angle, just being themselves. I thought some of our blog followers might appreciate them also. And if you’re not interested in working on your chimp ID, the videos make seven good excuses just to look at each of these beautiful chimps for several minutes.
(For extra credit, click on each name below to learn some identifying physical characteristics for each individual).
We are really excited to be participating in Giving Day for Apes on Tuesday, September 25th! This is a day of online giving to promote awareness of apes and the sanctuaries who are caring for them across the world. Check out our page here.
To spice things up, there are some prizes available to participating sanctuaries, so you can plan your giving for the “Power Hours” of 11am-12pm and 4pm-5pm PT. I’ll be announcing some exciting challenge donations during those times, so stay tuned!
Above is a video to highlight how important this day is and how much of a difference you can make.
And because we love you all, here are a couple of bonus photos I took several weeks ago that we I haven’t had a chance to share before.
Pretty much always serious Jamie:
Serious but playful Foxie:
It was just three weeks ago that we separated Jody from the group in order to stitch an injury to her eyelid. If you didn’t know it had happened, you probably wouldn’t notice that her left eye looks a little different. I suspect in another three weeks even we won’t be able to tell which eye it was.
Dr. Erin did a great job of the procedure, no doubt. Plus chimpanzees have this uncanny ability to heal very quickly (thank goodness!).
I keep thinking back to the days after the procedure and how each step was an affirmation of why Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest exists and the role of the humans at the sanctuary.
When the injury happened, Jody was clearly irritated that her eyelid was kind of just hanging there (sorry for that graphic image), though she was not irritated enough that she ignored the rest of her lunch. On the contrary, she went right back to eating when the fighting had stopped.
The humans figured out pretty quickly that we needed to fix her eyelid because it serves such an important function of protecting the eye. After a little while, Jody seemed to agree with us, and she did not protest when we invited her to be separated from the other chimpanzees with the doors closing behind her.
I really believe that she knew she needed our help.
It took her the whole next day after the procedure to completely recover from the anesthesia, and she allowed me to sit with her (on the other side of the caging) and offer her sips of water in between her naps.
The day after that, however, she wanted to be back with the other chimpanzees.
Though it wasn’t an issue to separate Jody, she was definitely not as content to spend time by herself this time around. She was constantly watching what the group was doing, vocalizing along with them, and hopeful that she would be back with them each time we operated the doors. After a couple more days of healing, there was another reunion, and this time it lasted.
Here’s what I love about Jody’s reaction to all that happened: She accepted our help and let us pamper her a little, but the second she felt even halfway better, she wanted to be with her people. The humans are not her people. She has a family of chimpanzees – they are her people. She’s not related to any of them, but they are her family.
She wanted to be back with them even after sustaining a pretty intense injury during a fight with these same people.
And that explains the role of the humans at the sanctuary. We are protectors and sometimes fixers, up to a point. We make sure that the chimpanzees have food, medical care, and an interesting and comfortable environment.
But the truth is that they need each more than they need us. They have their own lives to lead.
That is one of the reasons why we are working hard on the Bring Them Home Expansion Campaign in order to bring more chimpanzees to the sanctuary. We don’t know how long these seven chimpanzees will be here, but we know that as long as they are alive, they will need a family of other chimpanzees.
For Giving Day for Apes this year, we are highlighting the expansion campaign. We hope you will join in the donating on September 25th to help expand the family at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest and be a part of providing them with what the really need.
A few years ago, we began a Positive Reinforcement Training (PRT) program with the chimpanzees here at the sanctuary. (See this post for an introduction to PRT including how it works, why we feel it’s important, and how it improves the chimps’ lives.)
All seven chimps have made incredible strides since we began the program. Some chimps were enthusiastic participants right from the start while others have chosen to take part at their own pace and in their own time.
Negra has always been a little touchy when it comes to, well, being touched. She’s still working on moving past her decades in research labs where she was poked and prodded against her will. Probably for that reason, she wasn’t always a big fan of PRT. She voluntarily participated, but she would be sure to let her caregivers know when she had reached her limit. At the very beginning of the program, she was even scared of the sound of the clicker.
As you’ll see in this video, she’s certainly come a long way…
First things first – the Summer Biddin’ online auction is crazy! As I write this (way later than I intended to be writing a blog post), the total is up to $21,761! Thank you to everyone who has bid on items and donated to Raise the Barn. Bidding ends Monday night!
Now, for the chimp day.
We were planning for a lunch forage on the hill, and I noticed that we had a bounty of corn in the fridge, so we decided to put out whole ears still in the husk as part of the forage.
Negra was pretty much in heaven:
She also picked up some cattails for later:
Volunteer Chad did a really good job of corn distribution and everyone got in on the action.
Annie eating corn in her nest:
Jody also got some corn leftovers, but she was more focused on a very novel treat that her friend Stephanie had delivered – banana blossoms!
Burrito found a blossom on the hill on his second trip to the buffet:
Apparently it was a lot of work to eat it, or he was taking a cue from Jody who often eats in a reclined position, because he finished it off lying down:
It’s very satisfying to see the chimpanzees satisfied, isn’t it?