Foxie is quite small for a chimpanzee. This comes in handy when you want to be light on your feet!
Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest
Foxie is probably the most joyous person I know. She, like each member of her chimpanzee family, has every reason not to be given their history. And yet, like the rise and fall of nature’s breath, she persists. And we’re all the better for it. As beloved poet, Mary Oliver, wrote:
“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel
Give in to it.
There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.We are not wise, and not very often kind.
And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left.
Perhaps this is its way of fighting back,
that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world.
It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.
Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb.”
I had the hardest time decided what to do for the blog today. There were many moments worthy of sharing and even more thoughts floating around my head. I could have written a novel.
Instead, I decided to let the two images below speak for themselves. What do you see?
Lord Byron’s poem “She Walks in Beauty” came to mind with the photo of Negra.
P.S. The “featured” image above of Annie’s profile reminded me of a Victorian cameo. I’m not sure why the chimpanzees brought to mind the 1800s today.
The chimps often use straws for drinking things that aren’t within reach (such as evening food puzzle drink buckets that we set outside their enclosures).
Sometimes they like to improvise and use straws, just because they can (not because it’s necessary). Annie for instance, likes to bring her own straw along to drink her morning smoothie (that we usually serve straight to her lips from the cup). Here’s Jamie making an interesting tool use choice.
Last week melted the majority of the snow covering the sanctuary, but we’ve had a couple of cold and dry days this week. The chimps seem unfazed by the drop in temperature and have still been eager to explore Young’s Hill each morning (albeit at a slightly faster pace). As the chimpanzees wrapped up their morning adventures, Foxie uncovered a lone Strawberry Shortcake doll that must have spent a great deal of this winter covered in snow. Being the responsible doll owner that she is, she gingerly took her buried treasure back to the warm playroom to thaw out.
Morning is the busiest time at the sanctuary. Here’s a photo tour of the first few hours of the day today.
Coming up the driveway to the sanctuary, you can see (L-R) the trailer that houses our mobile medical clinic (which will soon be replaced with a stationary medical clinic in the new expansion), the enrichment shed for storing extra toys and blankets for the chimps, the gate to the chimp house, and the barn, which is now used to store hay and straw for the cattle. Young’s Hill, the chimps’ two-acre outdoor habitat, is out of frame to the far left.
For the chimps’ safety and privacy, the sanctuary is not open to the public.
Today staff member Anna is Lead Caregiver.
The first order of the day is to greet the chimps and work through a brief morning checklist. (That’s Annie in the background.)
Meanwhile, volunteer Linda starts preparing breakfast.
This is usually how we find Negra first thing in the morning: huddled in a pile of blankets in her favorite spot on the playroom catwalk.
And this is usually how we find Burrito: working up into his morning display.
Anna checks the day’s enrichment for safety before it’s given to the chimps.
Anna and intern Rose check some doors and locks in preparation for entering the greenhouse for cleaning:
Linda, Rose, and intern Sofia start in the greenhouse…
…while Anna brings out a basket of clean enrichment and blankets.
These guys are the true MVPs of the sanctuary. They run every hour of the day.
When greenhouse cleaning is done, Anna gives the chimps access to the greenhouse, and Linda starts serving breakfast in the front rooms while Anna closes off the playroom for cleaning.
Burrito and Annie (if you look closely you can see a tiny Jody behind them in the greenhouse):
After some more door and lock checks, it’s time to clean the playroom.
Enrichment gets a thorough cleaning, too.
While Linda, Rose, and Sofia get started in there, Anna starts the trek up the hill for her Young’s Hill perimeter check…
…and back down the other side.
Once she determines that the hill is secure, she unlocks and opens the door.
Missy, Foxie, and Annie can’t wait to get out and explore a little.
Some chimps preferred to remain in the warm front rooms.
After playroom cleaning, Anna double-checks some locks…
…and then gives the chimps access to the playroom and closes off the front rooms for cleaning.
Jamie found a new book on predators that she was captivated by.
In the kitchen, the volunteers start preparing tonight’s evening enrichment (peanut butter pinecones) and lunch.
After some checks to make sure the front rooms are chimp-free, Anna unlocks them for the next round of cleaning…
Yesterday we had freezing fog rolling through the sanctuary all day and overnight the sanctuary turned into an icy wonderland. With a wind chill of 20 degrees it’s remained enchanting, if not frigid, but that hasn’t stopped several of the chimpanzees from a quick run around Young’s Hill. But most of the chimps have been enjoying their day indoors, playing constant games of chase and making huge blanket nests.
And boss lady, Jamie, has no problem finding indoor activities to keep her busy in between her frosty runs. She began by taking an after breakfast nap complete with yawns and choosing to wear a hot pink sock with flying pigs in capes on it. Naturally.
We put out a forage of purple cabbage and dried oranges, but Jamie was most interested in what might have been hidden in her kitchenette. And we just love that giant caterpillar:
She later discovered a surprise pair of new boots:
And then she finally settled back into her nest for some reading about her cousins, the Bonobos. Jamie is utterly fascinated by the books she has been given about bonobos, even more so than her chimpanzee books. She spends ages looking at them over and over: