There’s no place like home…
Be it a sleek city condo, tropical vacation house, wigwam, igloo, or even a chimpanzee sanctuary, it’s true, there’s no place like home. In 2008, Keith LaChappelle, a Seattle man with a plan, founded Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW), one of only nine chimpanzee sanctuaries in all of North America. And this October, Redfin made a house call to the 26-acre farm in Cle Elum, Washington – which is home sweet home to Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy, Annie and tubby Negra.
After decades in biomedical research and several Hollywood gigs, these seven chimpanzees, affectionately known as the Cle Elum 7, found refuge in an entirely new environment. Today their home consists of a two-story, 18,000 cubic foot chimp house (a space filled with climbing structures, platforms and window seats), a cozy outdoor greenhouse and a two-acre outdoor habitat called “Young’s Hill.”
The Ryan Gosling of the chimp world…
CSNW’s Director of Operations, J.B. Mulcahy, who Seattle Metropolitan Magazine recently compared to “actor Ryan Gosling, if Ryan Gosling wore the tan, weathered look of a man who spent his days on an old farm…”, was kind enough to host Redfin’s visit. J.B. patiently answered all manner of our group’s questions from nutrition, to chimp sign language to well…ahem…the birds and the bees. And then he introduced us to the seven simian stars of the show.
In addition to J.B., CSNW is run by an incredibly talented staff. The staff is supported by an army of dedicated volunteers, and together they ensure that the chimps thrive.
Chimps share 98.6 percent the same DNA as humans
The Cle Elum 7 are remarkably intelligent. Jamie has an obsession with cowboy boots, puzzles and western wear catalogs. Other popular pastimes include drawing pictures, sewing, watching movies, lovingly tending to a favorite troll doll, and making giant nests out of blankets. It may seem unnatural to provide the chimps with a selection of human items, but the staff is quick to explain that nothing is natural about sanctuary-living and the biggest challenge they face is coming up with enrichment to alleviate boredom. As CSNW’s founder often says, “Choice, choice, choice, that’s what separates sanctuary from the rest of captivity.” Whether the chimps choose to spend their days climbing bamboo on Young’s Hill, or wearing a tutu while playing with Dora the Explorer, they call the shots.
The Cle Elum seven know how to party
Any excuse for streamers and snacks and these chimps are ready to eat, drink and be merry! So, Redfin sponsored a real-estate themed chimp party and donated house-shaped piñatas, a giant Lego castle, assorted toys, clothing, red and white decorations and healthy fruits and veggies. Here’s a video that captured the action. We’re delighted the chimps had more fun than a barrel of…well, you know!
Click your heels three times…
So, the next time you see a pair of cowboy boots, know there is a chimpanzee in Washington State who’s clicking her heels saying there’s no place like home.
For more information on CSNW, please visit their website. Need a smile? The chimps also have a phenomenal daily blog. Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is a 501c3 organization that exists solely through the generosity of its supporters. Thanks for hosting us, CSNW!