Eyes on Apes | The Cle Elum Seven | Burrito

The Cle Elum Seven: Burrito's story

Burrito was born at White Sands Research Center on January 6, 1983. His father Mack was the father to many chimpanzees born within the laboratory. At birth, Burrito was immediately taken from his mother, Karen, and placed in the "nursery" at White Sands. He was named "WSRC #67 -- Raj" and was used in hepatitis B vaccine safety trials beginning in December 1984, when he was not even two years old.

Burrito never had a chance to truly be a chimpanzee before coming to the sanctuary. On August 1, 1986 Raj was shipped to the Buckshire Corporation in Pennsylvania. He lived as a "house chimp" until February 1987 when his named was changed to Burrito, and he was then leased to an "animal act" with Jungle Larry until February 1988. Then he returned to Buckshire.

We don't have any records for Burrito beyond that point, so it's possible that he stayed at Buckshire for the next 20 years. Burrito's early days were absolutely deprived of the nurturing care and attention chimpanzees need from their mothers to learn the skills to make it in the world. It's not surprising at all that Burrito never really learned how to be a chimpanzee. At CSNW, the first time he swung across the posts in the outdoor area was so moving. Burrito can now, finally, be a chimpanzee.

Burrito has not always displayed the greatest confidence, especially with new things, but with every day that goes by, Burrito's confidence grows and his bravery increases. After all Burrito has gone through, our hearts fill with so much pride when we see him displaying his "chimpanzee-ness" like he should have always been free to do.

Burrito before and after