Spitting Images

Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF's Execuctive Director on October 16, 2008

Stephen with Jodi, a chimpanzee at the sanctuary.Jamie returned to the water spigot and I prepared for my third consecutive dousing. She delights in getting a rise out of visitors by taking mouthfuls of water and spitting on them.  I decided to take it as a sign of affection.­

Watch this video of Jamie delighting in her water games.

Jamie is one of seven chimpanzees recently arrived at the brand new Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW). Jamie and her six companions will live out the rest of their lives in this safe, caring and comfortable home. In August, I was visiting my good friend and colleague Sarah Baeckler, who is now the executive director of the sanctuary, and had an opportunity to visit with the chimps as well. In keeping with the desire of the sanctuary to let the chimps be chimps with limited human interference, I sat just outside the chimps’ indoor pen. I watched them play with toys, including a fire truck sent by a caring donor from Ireland, and chase each other around, reveling in their newfound space and companionship.

Also new is the chimps’ diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains — quite a change from the monotonous “monkey chow” biscuits they were fed daily in captivity. I volunteered to prepare dinner for the seven chimps and was told to be creative. So I made them some pasta noodles with fresh coconut chunks, tomatoes and peanut butter. This was accompanied by fresh vegetables and fruit. I was informed later by the staff that the chimps loved their dinner, and that Burrito, the only male of the group, took a second bowl while making noises of delight.

The CSNW staff–Sarah; J.B. Mulcahy, director of operations; Diana Goodrich, director of outreach, and Keith LaChappelle, founding director–are among the most caring and dedicated people you could possibly meet. I left realizing the magnitude of their commitment and of the need to provide a home to the hundreds of chimps who languish in abusive or neglectful  situations in cages barely big enough for them to take a step in.

ALDF is committed to working with CSNW and other sanctuaries to make sure that every chimpanzee who needs safe haven finds one.

Watch this ABC World News report about CSNW and its seven rescued residents.

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