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November 4, 2013 at 6:12 PM

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Northwest Wanderings: Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest


Burrito, born in 1983 a laboratory, is the only male in the group and though he has small, delicate hands, is surprisingly strong. Formerly all used in research testing, they cannot be put into the wild lacking the necessary social and survival skills.

Seven of Cle Elum's residents don't get into town much.

In fact, never.

They have a place in the country with a two-story, 1,800-square-foot house, a greenhouse and a two-acre yard.

This place, near the Kittitas County town with a population of 1,872, is infinitely better than their previous home in Pennsylvania, just a few 5-by-5-by-7-foot cages.

There, they were the subjects of hepatitis B vaccine testing. Here, this family of six females and one male can simply be chimpanzees.

Most were born in captivity so they can never return to the wild; they don't have the social or survival skills.

Though they are our closest genetic relatives in the animal world, they do not make good pets. They seem cute when small but "they become very strong, with strong wills and [then] have to live in a cage," says Diana Goodrich of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. "Really, their behavior and human behavior is very similar. They can be loving, altruistic or rather aggressive."

She says they're five times stronger than humans.

Their play can be rough. Jody had a toe bitten off. There are six suspects: Jamie, Foxie, Burrito, Annie, Negra and Missy.

Sanctuary residents since 2008, their waking hours revolve around meals. Breakfast is fruit and a smoothie; lunch and dinner, vegetables.

Some bite their nails, but Jamie, the boss, knows how to use an emory board. It takes about $600,000 a year in donations to maintain the sanctuary, one of nine in the country and the only one in the state.

It's there for the chimps to be chimps and not open to the public.


Foxie, born in 1976 in captivity, climbs a second-level walkway. Chimps are strong and athletic. Like her fellow chimps, she came to Cle Elum in 2008 from a private lab in Pennsylvania.


Jamie, and Jody come to the window to check out who is looking into the almost 1,800-square-foot, two story indoor facility.


Foxie likes to carry her dolls on her back just as an adult mother would carry their young except the offspring would help out holding on with their arms.

For more photos, visit the gallery.

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It's a sad world where humans pretend to know what is best for other species. MORE
OMG!! 37 years in a cage?!? MORE


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