Written by Shannon Wallin
Most people know CHCI for its dedication to five amazing chimpanzees. Of course providing sanctuary to Washoe, Loulis, Tatu, Dar, and Moja has always been CHCI’s primary purpose. But as well as a remarkable sanctuary, CHCI wore many other hats that made this sanctuary unique.
CHCI educated 1000’s upon 1000’s of people about chimpanzees and their plight through Chimposiums and Advanced Chimposiums. Most people left these workshops with a greater respect for the species and with a drive to join the fight to protect both free living and captive chimpanzees.
CHCI was also an educational facility for students. Student interns volunteered their time to help take care of the chimpanzees; in return they learned valuable caregiving skills. Not only did they learn the ins and outs of caregiving, most importantly they learned what it meant to do it ethically, to do it with compassion. Caregiving at CHCI required you to be humble and put the chimpanzees and their needs first. Not many college graduates leave college with such rich hands on experience in this field. Many of our interns left highly employable in the caregiving field. CHCI’s summer apprentice program allowed students from other universities to come and experience the same educations, these students also left with a greater passion for chimpanzees and with valuable caregiving experience.
CHCI also contributed to behavioral research. Non-invasive, behavioral research was done to help better understand this family and to enhance the well being of all captive chimpanzees.
CHCI’s mission was to take care of Washoe, Tatu, Moja, Loulis, and Dar. The chimpanzees were the heart and soul of CHCI, but along the way CHCI inspired and trained future caregivers and activists. CHCI inspired many to care and take action; I am lucky to have been a part of this.