Hundreds of our resident chimpanzees spent their formative years in isolation. In concrete and steel cages, with solid walls on the sides, and sometimes even on top. The first thing Dr. Noon did upon rescuing them was expand their access to each other and the outdoors via new doorways and expanded outdoor spaces.

We all need the outdoors, we need the freedom of being able to go out a door. But it can be scary. And with so much uncertainty about the pandemic and differing opinions on what protocol to follow it can be confusing too.

This is why we need to look to our cousin chimpanzees. When faced with the exciting but scary possibility of venturing onto their new island habitats for the first time, some chimpanzees ran right out. But some stayed in the habitat houses, unsure. Eventually some of these that stayed indoors would go outside but stay on the concrete patio, unsure of the grass and the wide open sky above them.

Seeing their uncertainty, Dr. Carole Noon and the staff came up with a plan. They created a covered walkway out onto the island. That way the chimpanzees would have a covering above them, and fencing to hold onto as they ventured down the path out onto the island. And sure enough it worked. Little by little, those that were scared eased their way out. With new safety all around them, feeling much more protected from a new and uncertain world.

We can learn so much from our cousin chimpanzees. If you are uncertain, make a new plan. Take small steps. Keep yourself and those you love safe. Little by little we will all get used to a new normal and before you know it we will look up and see bright blue open skies above us and feel much more safe and secure. Sometimes even the smallest of steps can lead somewhere big and wondrous.

Thanks to you, our generous donors, we are three-quarters down the walkway closer to our $210,000 Board Match Challenge — our biggest ever in Sanctuary history. Giving Tuesday gave us a great boost (thank you to all who participated). But just like our chimpanzee cousins, we are not giving up. We still have ten days to make it over the next hurdle into the home stretch. Won’t you help?

If you can help, please do, every gift gets us that much closer to our goal.