Nestled off of a quiet road in rural, central Washington is a special sanctuary, established in 2003, for seven chimpanzees who were rescued from a dismal, lonely existence at a Pennsylvania biomedical research facility. Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW), a 501 c3 non-profit agency, is home to the Cle Elum Seven, Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy, and Negra.
On Tuesday, ShelterMe contributor Penny Eims, along with her family and friends, enjoyed a peek inside the sanctuary which these special chimpanzees currently call home. The tour, led by co-director J.B. Mulcahy, begins in a barn located near the chimpanzee habitat.
Before heading outside to watch the chimps in their special outdoor enclosure, guests were provided with some history about the Cle Elum Seven, including insight to their individual personalities, (including Jamie’s obsession with boots and Foxie’s love of Troll dolls) what they eat (primarily vegetables and fruit), like to do, and a glimpse into their sad past, where life for these intelligent, emotional animals consisted of years inside of a small metal cage.
Today, the days, weeks, months and years of confinement are a thing of the past. Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy and Negra no longer spend their days deprived of fresh air and companionship. The Cle Elum Seven enjoy life on a 26-acre farm which is outfitted with indoor and outdoor habitats designed to keep them engaged and happy. Though one might assume that the chimps would have immediately embraced their newfound freedom after arriving to the sanctuary, guests learned that it actually took quite some time to make the adjustment from life inside of a small cage, with no view out of the outside, to acres of outdoor habitat.
After the informational meeting, which was interrupted by the sanctuary’s resident orphaned elk, “Ellie,” (who managed to steal the show with her adorable antics), the group headed up to the viewing area outside of the outdoor habitat. One guest, “Jessica,” who had previously visited the sanctuary, wore black boots especially for Jamie, the chimp who has a boot fetish. The effort was not lost on Jamie, who came to the fence to acknowledge that she saw (and evidently appreciated) the boots. According to J.B., Jamie loves boots so much that she has a stash of favorites that she insists that the staff wear – some CSNW fans even send cowboy boot catalogs to Jamie, just so she can browse through them.
The Chimp Sanctuary runs solely off of donations – many people follow the agency’s blog, which allows followers to get to know the Cle Elum Seven a bit better. Contributors who choose to “sponsor a day” at the sanctuary will even receive a special mention in the blog.
The sanctuary is hoping to rescue more chimpanzees in the not too distant future; their ability to do so is reliant on donations from compassionate animal lovers who hope to see these intelligent animals enjoy, perhaps for the first time in their life, a rich, full existence. The sanctuary promises to provide the rescued chimpanzees with hope, unconditional love and a permanent, safe home where the horrors of their past can be left far behind.
Find the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest website here.