Our Northwest

Chimp sanctuary open for public visits

Wednesday, August 5, 2015by  Jon Osterberg

A sanctuary that rescued chimpanzees from biomedical testing is open for public tours this summer.
     The chimps’ two-acre fenced home, with an indoor residence and open-air habitat, sits on a hillside near Washington's State Route 10 above the Yakima River. It’s rural and peaceful – something the chimps deserve after years of living inside 5-foot metal cages.
     I got to tour Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest last year while working on PEMCO’s ‘Don’t Get Burned!’ wildfire-awareness campaign. The sanctuary was among the first structures threatened when the 2012 Taylor Bridge Wildfire exploded nearby.
     Seven chimps live at the sanctuary. Nicknamed the Cle Elum Seven, they each have unique personalities and traits. Jamie, age 38, is the boss. We were warned she might spit and throw feces at us to demonstrate her dominance. Sure enough, she spit but thankfully tossed no poop.
     Jamie also was fascinated by shoes. She gestured to us to hike up our pant legs and show her our footwear, which she examined intently. Jamie has many shoes of her own to play with and prefers boots.
     Foxie had four babies while in medical research, all of which were taken from her very soon. Perhaps that’s why she’s taken a liking to dolls, which she toted around during our visit.
     Jody made a sleeping nest out of a big pile of blankets and clothes, something she does regularly, we were told.
     Read more about the chimps and how the public can arrange to visit in this Ellensburg Daily Record article.

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