written by Lindsay McWilliams | photos by Ben McBee
Kevin Doner has been a caretaker for two years at Chimps Inc, Oregon’s only chimpanzee sanctuary, located near Bend. “The best part is just spending every day with an animal like a chimp. Even if you’re having a bad day, they’ll just make you laugh and everything’s alright.”
Chimps that were once performers, zoo animals or kept as pets are sent here to retire in peace and dignity. Raised in captivity, many are confused about who they are, resulting in stereotypical behaviors like pacing and self-injury. Staff members do their best to keep the chimps from getting bored, providing them with new activities for enrichment each day.
Knowing the chimps’ personalities and social groupings is extremely important to Doner’s work—especially knowing where each chimp sits on the social hierarchy.