caregiver in a cloth face mask holds a straw up to caging for chimp to take a drink

Animal Sanctuary Caregiver Day: Pant hoots, Onions, and Two Letters

Today is Animal Sanctuary Caregiver Day, a collaborative effort by the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) to thank the incredible caregivers at our sanctuary for their work on the “front lines,” especially during this particularly difficult year.

a caregiver crouches next to fencing, on the other side a chimp sits in front of plants and eats strawberries
Kaeley and Tatu © Justin Taus

Pant Hoots for Our Dedicated Caregivers

A pant hoot is a sound chimpanzees make when they are excited about something. It’s a deep resonating sound that comes from deep in the diaphragm and out through a wide open throat (sounds like yogic breathing). It feels really good to make this sound especially when it is accompanying a happy time. Maybe it’s a shared pant hoot over a sweet bunch of grapes or when seeing a good friend arrive. This is the sound that comes out of the chimphouse in the morning. Sometimes it’s at 7:00 am and never after 8:00 am. That’s when caregivers arrive and begin the chimpanzees’ day.

This is an always, every day of the year, no matter the weather, or other adversities, on time. They must show up. This requires a dedication that isn’t seen in many jobs. It’s a dedication to the folks inside. Caregivers put aside whatever is going on in their lives to be front and center for the chimps. Caregivers know they must do this, because the chimps can’t.

The Onion Layers of Chimp Care: Support Staff

There’s a lot that goes into caring for chimpanzees. It’s like an onion – the onion of chimp care. The chimps are at the center, caregivers are frontline, then there’s the supply line, the fundraising, on an on. There are many layers to an onion, but an onion is only that with its layers. The layers are connected and support each other. The caregivers can only do their job when someone orders food, schedules and accepts the delivery. The lights only go on if the bill is paid. The bills only get paid if we have dedicated donors. There are many layers to this and each of us is a part of it. So while we honor our caregivers today, there are many that are part of this system and much each of us can do to support the caregivers and ultimately the chimps.

A caregiver holds a spoon up to caging for a chimp to take eat from
Laurence and Rachel © Justin Taus

Two Letters

I have two letters to write on Animal Sanctuary Caregiver Day.


Dear Caregivers,

Whether you arrive first in the morning, leave last in the evening, or stop in midday, the chimps know you’re there. They take stock and I believe they are grateful. Those pant hoots are their way of telling you.

Pant hoots and hugs to you!


Dear Supporters,

Whether you give once a year, monthly, at each campaign, or never before. Please remember you too are woven into the fabric of support. We take stock and we are grateful for you taking the time and including the chimpanzees of Fauna in your giving.

Pant hoots and hugs to you!


–Mary Lee Jensvold


All gifts made through or increase our chances of winning a $20,000 donation from The Great Canadian Giving Challenge! Please consider providing mask and gloves to caregivers by making a gift today: