Cowboy boots are the bomb, Burrito is a really great name and troll dolls need love too.
Those are the things I learned from the chimps at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest that made me laugh. Perhaps it's because they help distract from what is so sad and serious: why they are there.
Thousands of chimpanzees have been used in medical research over the years. They were bred or captured, subjected to experimental medicine and left in small cages. They suffered and languished. But recent changes in research guidelines and in their endangered status have basically brought the testing to a halt. That's good news for them.
The bad news: They would never survive in the wild now. Approximately 435 chimps are still stuck in labs with nowhere else to go. The only viable option is a sanctuary. And that's where this story from Cle Elum comes in.
Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is one of only six facilities in the country with full accreditation to house the chimps with adequate food, space and medical care. Right now they have an amazing group known as the Cle Elum 7: Foxy, Jamie, Annie, Negra, Jody, Missy and Burrito. Most of them had never been outside before they arrived here. When the co-director of CSNW showed me one of the original lab cages used to hold a chimp in isolation, he said, "I would've never made it. I would've languished."
CSNW invited us in so we could show you how resilient these chimps are. And they told us about their plans to expand in a big, bold way. We left with a new appreciation and new hope for these chimps. We think this story will pass it on to you.
For more information on Chimapnzee Sanctuary Northwest.
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