Eyes on Apes | The Cle Elum Seven | Jamie

The Cle Elum Seven: Jamie's story

Jamie is probably the smartest primate you'll ever meet. Her exact birthdate is unknown, but she was likely born in 1977. We celebrate her birthday on Halloween every year -- it fits her mischievous personality. Jamie's early years were spent around humans. She lived with a trainer and was probably used in some form of entertainment. She was clearly exposed to a lot more human-like things than most lab chimpanzees are.

Jamie's records are really scarce. What we can decipher is that Buckshire likely purchased Jamie in the mid 80s, after she was with a trainer for about nine years. After that, she may have been leased to the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP) in New York, where she was given the tattoo "#CH522." She was likely used in hepatitis B vaccine trials, and possibly as a breeder, though we have no records of any offspring.

All of the technician notes from Jamie's physicals including something along the lines of "pulls hair from stomach." In captivity, and especially in dismal conditions, chimpanzees will develop stereotypic behaviors such as over-grooming by pulling their hair. In the lab, Jamie had very little choices and zero control over her life. She resorted to pulling her hair out due to pure boredom.

Unfortunately, Jamie still exhibits this behavior. For the first year she was at the sanctuary, we saw no sign of her hair plucking. Now it varies from no sign at all to a small, bare patch. Though her environment has improved exponentially, the habits that chimpanzees pick up in situations of deprivation often continue even when their environment improves. And no captive situation can provide the rich social, emotional, and mental stimulation that chimpanzees evolved to experience. It is unfair that Jamie has to live in captivity, and we think she knows that.

It's impossible to imagine Jamie in a small biomedical cage with nothing to keep her mind stimulated, and we're so happy that we can now provide ways for her to stay active. Whether it's drawing, putting together tools, taking things apart, working on a tricky project, getting a new boot, or expressing her innate chimpanzee-ness on Young's Hill, these are all things that she did not have during her decades when she was viewed as a mere tool for biomedical progress. She now has an amazing new freedom in sanctuary.

Jamie before and after