Central Washington University’s Primate Behavior and Ecology (PBE) academic programs are thriving despite the relocation of chimpanzees Tatu and Loulis to a sanctuary in Montreal. CWU and Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW), in Cle Elum, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that allows CWU students to receive credits while being trained at their facility, which is home to seven chimpanzees. There will be no cost to CWU.
“We’re really tickled,” said Lori Sheeran, PBE director and anthropology professor. “When we knew that the CHCI [Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute] chimpanzees were leaving, we began talking to the people at CSNW about letting our students become involved.”
The university and sanctuary already have close ties. Co-director John Mulcahy and several staff members are CWU graduates, and trained at CHCI, so there is considerable overlap in ideologies and methodologies. Diana Goodrich, the other director, was the executive assistant at Fauna Foundation, the sanctuary where the CWU chimpanzees now reside. CSNW is only about 30 miles from the CWU’s Ellensburg campus, making it an easy commute for students.
The MOU allows the primate behavior program to offer another venue for training in animal caregiving and environmental enrichment. Sheeran notes that students in the primate behavior program have many opportunities to work with nonhuman primates, adding “CHCI was one resource, among many.”
“This training is vital to our students’ abilities to compete for jobs in zoos, sanctuaries, and to prepare for fieldwork,” said Sheeran. “The MOU allows our undergraduate and graduate students to learn safe and humane caregiving practices while earning course credits.
“Our students are noted worldwide for their abilities to work with chimpanzees, who are sensitive, intelligent, and challenging creatures,” she continued. “The experience of working around nonhuman primates, plus the program coursework, gives them an undeniable edge.”
In addition, PBE students can conduct research and complete internships at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, the Molecular Anthropology Lab at CWU, or study abroad at the Mt. Huangshan, China macaque sanctuary. Sheeran also recently developed a research agreement with a gibbon conservation center in southern California that will provide several internships annually. Students also can continue to study chimpanzee sign language and communication at CWU using archival data.
For more information about PBE go to www.cwu.edu/primate.
CSNW was founded in 2003 to provide sanctuary for chimpanzees discarded from the entertainment and biomedical testing industries. It is located on a 26-acre farm in the Cascade Mountains, 90 miles east of Seattle. It is one of only a handful of sanctuaries in the United States that cares for chimpanzees. For more information about CSNW, go to www.chimpsanctuarynw.org.
All photos are courtesy of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest.
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