Summers are always busy at the sanctuary but this year seems more hectic than ever. We had the first of many volunteer work parties a couple weeks ago to work on the electric fences that will enclose the Bray and the renovated Young’s Hill, the 1.8-acre and 2.4-acre habitats for the new group of nine and the Cle Elum Seven. Many thanks to volunteer Karen Ducey for these first two photos.
The installation of the fence insulators is a daunting job due to the sheer number of them, but over a dozen hard-working volunteers managed to install a couple thousand in just one weekend.
Tomorrow, volunteers will return to keep the progress going.
The project foreman, Benny, will be on hand to make sure the work proceeds apace. It’s best not to get on his bad side.
Central Nursery arrived today to begin installing a massive new irrigation system that will initially support over 100 new trees and shrubs in the habitats including aspen, pine, hazelnut, dogwood, blueberry, and bamboo. The irrigation system will draw water from an old spring-fed irrigation pond by the house that was used to water the orchard back when this was a working homestead. We are installing more irrigation lines than we will need in this first phase so that we can plant even more trees and shrubs in the future.
We’re a little late taking panels off the greenhouses this year because of all the construction going on around them.
On the east side of the building, the folks from Sage Mechanical have been installing new overhead chutes that will make additional connections between the indoor enclosures and the Bray. This way, the chimps can reach their outdoor habitat from the front rooms, playroom, or greenhouse and won’t ever have to wait for us to finish cleaning to get where they want to go.
Here’s the view from the playroom window. To most people, these tunnels would not be the most exciting part of our expansion project but based on how much the chimps love the existing chute and how we’ve seen chimps use overhead tunnels at other sanctuaries, we’re pretty sure they’re going to be a big hit.
On the other side of the building, a smaller section of chute is being installed that will create an outdoor connection between the other playroom and greenhouse. This was conceived as a connection to the closed-top outdoor enclosure planned for the west side of the building but that larger project is on hold due to escalating costs and significant supply chain delays. But now that our new group of nine is living together in relative harmony and will soon have access to The Bray, the closed-top enclosure is far less important than it was when we first began making plans for the two separate Wildlife Waystation groups. We imagine the chimps will love to sit out in this chute and watch the staff, volunteers, and delivery people come up the driveway.
Finally, we are also starting to plan for and build new climbing structures within the future Young’s Hill and Bray enclosures. The first one to get underway was Ryan’s Lookout, which is being built with a generous donation from Karen and Don Young in memory of their son, Ryan. The basic structure is complete and soon it will be surrounded by trees and shrubs as well as fire hose vines for the chimps to swing on and tightrope-walk across. I think this will be a popular spot for the groups to sit and groom and stare out at the river and valley below.
Our hope is to have the renovated Young’s Hill ready by late summer and the Bray ready by fall. Soon we will have to tear down the existing fence, at which point the Seven won’t have access to the hill and the pressure to get everything completed will be intense! While I was of course joking about Benny being a foreman, in all seriousness, Jamie will be watching and patience is not one of her virtues. So that should help keep us motivated. But the disruption will be worth it when she finally gets to lay in the shade of the towering pines at the top of her new habitat.