Hey everyone! It’s that time again! We have another interview from a great organization! We here at ILRA are pleased to introduce you to (or simply allow you to learn more about) Chimp Sanctuary Northwest! I first heard about Chimp Sanctuary when I found them on twitter (@ChimpSanctuary). I read through their tweets & learned about their wonderful chimps and I was hooked. I even won a twitter contest they had for knowing that it was Foxie who loved to play with trolls & got some very pretty cards! I hope you will all take the time to go read the bios of all the chimps. Trust me, it will make you smile to know that after all they’ve been through, they now have an awesome home and will live out the rest of their lives in happiness!
What is the full name of your sanctuary?
Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest
Where is Chimp Sanctuary located?
Just outside of the town of Cle Elum, WA
When was your sanctuary established?
The organization was incorporated in 2003. The chimpanzees arrived June 13, 2008.
What is the mission of your sanctuary?
To provide lifetime quality care for formerly abused or exploited chimpanzees, while advocating for great apes through education and collaboration.
How did you decide which chimps to rescue? Were they all ready to be retired?
Construction on the sanctuary began for a group of five to seven chimpanzees, but the exact chimpanzees had not been identified. In 2007, the sanctuary learned of seven chimpanzees at the Buckshire Corporation in Pennsylvania. Buckshire had tried to place the chimpanzees years earlier in another sanctuary, but that had fallen through. The chimpanzees had been “waiting” for sanctuary within cramped cages in a windowless basement at Buckshire.
Is the sanctuary big enough to add more chimps? Do you plan on doing so in the future?
The building was designed for a group of five to seven, so we are pretty much at capacity. In addition, it can be very difficult to integrate adult chimpanzees with one another. We would like to be able to provide a home for other chimpanzees in the future.
How is your sanctuary run? Is it mostly volunteers?
There are five staff members that do everything from caring for the chimpanzees to grant writing, outreach and construction and about 40 regular volunteers.
Where do you get your funding?
The majority of our funding comes from individual donations. We also receive grants from private foundations and we’ve received some corporate support (from LUSH handmade cosmetics). We do not receive any government support.
Tell us more about your sanctuary. What makes it unique?
There are only a handful of sanctuaries for chimpanzees in North America and each one is unique. We are able to provide very individualized attention to the chimpanzees at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest because the group is small. This also means that we can share the personalities of the individual chimpanzees and our supporters can learn a lot about them. We have a blog that we update almost daily with photos, video and stories, a Twitter account, and Facebook pages, including individual pages for each of the chimpanzees.
Do you have a favorite story you’d like to share?
There are so many! Everyday the chimpanzees do amazing things that illustrate how intelligent, resilient and individualistic they are. We’ve seen remarkable transformations in the less than two years the Cle Elum Seven chimpanzees have been at the sanctuary. For example, when Jamie arrived at the sanctuary there was a large patch on her belly that was plucked down to the skin. Looking at her records, it was clear that she had done this for years. Her hair starting growing back immediately and she hasn’t plucked it out since arriving at the sanctuary. Jamie is extremely intelligent and is constantly up to something – she’s just one of those people who’s wheels are always turning. She creates projects for herself with the toys and other objects that we provide the chimpanzees. It’s heartbreaking to think about the years she spent in the laboratories with nothing to do but pull her own hair out, but we do all we can to make sure she has fun, new things to do everyday from now on.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
The sanctuary is not open to the public, but we do share the chimpanzees with people through our website and social networking sites.
Where all are you located online?
For the chimpanzee’s individual Facebook pages, search for their name (Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy, Negra) followed by “Chimpanzee” (so, Jamie Chimpanzee’s page is: here).