For Missy, this truly is a magical time of year.
For Missy, this truly is a magical time of year.
We’re nearing the end of the chimps’ ninth winter here at CSNW and while chimpanzees aren’t naturally cold weather animals, they have adapted quite well. When the first snowflakes fall each year, the chimps food grunt in anticipation of the endless snow and ice snacks that winter brings. As temperatures begin to plunge, they make cozy nests on the heated playroom catwalks and bask in the radiant warmth of the greenhouse.
This winter, however, is really testing the patience of the chimps and their caregivers alike. While most of the country is enjoying an early spring, our tiny little corner of the Pacific Northwest has been stuck with temperatures 15-20 degrees below average for months on end.
But that just makes each glimpse of spring that much more enjoyable.
As the snow melts, more trails are uncovered. The chimps launched out the door this morning knowing that more of Young’s Hill would be open to exploration. Burrito always knows how to make an entrance.
Females often greet male chimps with a submissive crouch, particularly when those males are exhibiting signs of physiological arousal like piloerection (hair standing on end). This, I believe, is not so much a sign of respect as it is self-preservation. You don’t want to get run over by a male chimp in full display.
For chimps, emotional moments are almost always shared through touch. As Robert Yerkes once said, “One chimpanzee is no chimpanzee.”
Missy and Jamie learned to navigate the hill using the fire hose vines years ago, but now others like Jody and Annie (pictured here) are joining in.
After touching nearly every fire hose and climbing almost every structure on the hill, Jamie seemed thoroughly satisfied.
Foxie and Burrito were not content to only freeze their butts off in the snow, so they made snowballs and ate them too.
One of Annie’s favorite places to sit is high up on the edge of a beam looking out over the Yakima River valley. Sometimes she closes her eyes and tilts her head up to the sun. I imagine that she, like us, enjoys feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays on her skin and seeing the patterns that the light plays on the back of her eyelids.
Jody, ever the forager, harvested some big handfuls of snow this morning:
This is determination:
Meanwhile, Jamie was passing Missy on a structure:
It looks like they are hatching some sort of secret plan:
Or maybe Jamie always looks like she’s cooking up something:
Encouraged by these bold adventurers, the humans (me + Anna, J.B., and interns Courtney and Anthony) headed onto the hill (with the chimps safely indoors) and plowed and shoveled some more pathways.
Missy chose a high vantage point:
While Jamie immediately checked out the new trail:
Annie chose to collect some more snow and call it a day:
Negra was likely keeping herself cozy indoors:
And Burrito and Foxie (sorry, no photos of them today), took quick forays to get snow snacks. All in all, a very nice day at the sanctuary.
P.S. The buoy / boat bumper ball lives on! Kathleen and Sherry’s predictions were better than some of us who thought it would be deflated by now.
I think that of all of the seven chimpanzees at the sanctuary, Annie could be described as most like a poet. She can frequently be seen in serene moments by herself, seemingly lost in thought.
Today, while I was busy filming Missy in the greenhouse, I realized that Annie had been outside for quite some time alone, so I ventured into the snow to see what she was up to.
To highlight her inner poetic nature, I found this poem to pair with the photos of Annie below:
Winter is the slow-down
Winter is the search for self
Winter gives the silence you need to listen
Winter goes gray so you can see your own colors…
We’ve had our first real snowstorm this week. Here are some scenery shots:
The bench outside of the greenhouse, used for observing the chimpanzees during summer months when the greenhouse panels are removed:
Negra’s cabin (the triangular structure) and the bamboo and climbing structures in the background:
The lexan-enclosed human area of the greenhouse:
The snow falls off the roof of the greenhouse and creates snow banks that require frequent shoveling:
This is what I saw Missy doing most of the day:
For a quick video of Jamie’s snow-eating technique, take a look at our instagram account (@ChimpSanctuary)
If you’re in Washington State or have heard the national weather news, you know that there’s been no shortage of snow this week! We probably have about 16-18 inches on the ground now with more expected. The snow accumulation has caused the electric fence voltage on Young’s Hill to reduce (this is normal and expected). That, combined with the chimpanzees generally not enjoying walking in snow, they haven’t been on the hill this week. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t been able to take part in the weather!
J.B. shared a video on Thursday of the chimps snacking on troll doll snow cones – snow combined with a bit of orange juice, then frozen overnight outside.
Today, we filled up the big tub in the greenhouse with snow, so the chimpanzees have been free-snacking on it all day. Below are a few photos.
Burrito (Jamie in the background):
A series of Foxie:
Forget milk mustaches, 2012 is all about snow beards:
If you’re wondering if Foxie went to the tub empty-handed, the answer is no – she brought a troll doll and a brush:
Negra opted to bring her snow inside for snacking:
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