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Animal Advocates Protest MetLife Shareholders Meeting Over Chimp Abandonment Scandal

June 23, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

As part of an ongoing campaign to demand that MetLife hold the NY Blood Center (NYBC) accountable for abandoning its former lab chimpanzees on islands in Liberia, animal advocates protested at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in New York City.

“If MetLife prides itself on ‘corporate responsibility,’ then how can it possibly turn a blind eye to NYBC’s unconscionable decision to leave 66 chimps to starve to death?,” says protester Elena Natale. “We hope that MetLife will meet with the animal advocacy community to discuss this crisis.” MetLife is NYBC’s largest corporate donor.

Activists protest the MetLife shareholders meeting.

Activists protest the MetLife shareholders meeting.

In an apparent effort to curb interactions between protestors and shareholders, MetLife closed the main entrance to its building and rerouted meeting attendees to the back door.

The MetLife building's front door was locked in anticipation of the protest.

MetLife closed the front entrance to its building in anticipation of the protest.

Activists, unwilling to stay penned near the front entrance, exited the barricades errected by the NYPD and moved the protest to the back entrance.

Animal rights protestor at MetLife shareholders meeting.

Animal rights protestor at MetLife shareholders meeting

In November, 2015, primatologist Bob Ingersoll traveled from San Francisco to NYC to hand-deliver a petition to MetLife asking the company to cut its support of NYBC until the organization reinstates funding for the chimps. While a representative from MetLife did collect the petitions from him in the lobby, neither she nor anyone else from the company responded to him.

Primatologist Bob Ingersoll delivers petitions to a MetLife representative.

Primatologist Bob Ingersoll delivers petition to a MetLife representative.

On April 26, activists staged a 30-minute disruption in the lobby of the MetLife building during rush hour. Two weeks later, they protested at the NJ home of MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian. To date, MetLife has ignored all of the protests and the efforts to open a dialog regarding the plight of the chimps.

Activists protest at the home of MetLife's CEO in Summit NJ and at its headquarters in NYC.

Activists protest at the home of MetLife’s CEO in Summit, NJ, and at its headquarters in NYC.

Former NYBC donor Citigroup, on the other hand, did respond to the pleas of animal advocates by issuing a public statement asserting that “the current situation is not tolerable” and donating $50,000 towards the care of the chimps.

In May, 2015, the NY Times reported that NYBC had “withdrawn all funding for them,” leaving the chimps to die of starvation and thirst. In order to keep the chimps alive, Liberians who had been employed by the blood center to deliver food and water, began to care for them on a volunteer basis. With virtually no resources and burdened by the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, these volunteers kept the chimpanzees alive until an HSUS-led coalition of over 30 animal conservation groups raised funds from the public to pay for the chimps’ care on an emergency basis — until NYBC reinstates funding.

A chimpanzee abandoned by the NY Blood Center with a Liberian caretaker.(AP Photo/ Abbas Dulleh)

A chimpanzee abandoned by the NY Blood Center with a Liberian caretaker. (AP Photo/ Abbas Dulleh)

The New York Blood Center, which has earned an estimated $500 million in royalties off of the research conducted on the chimpanzees, has publicly stated that it has no “contractual obligation” to pay for the chimps’ food and water and has shifted the financial burden of caring for their captive chimp population to the animal welfare community.

A chimpanzee abandoned by the NY Blood Center receives water from a local volunteer.

A chimpanzee abandoned by the NY Blood Center receives water from a local volunteer.

Your Turn

Sign the Care2 petition to MetLife, NYBC’s largest corporate donor.

Join the Facebook page: New York Blood Center: Do the Right Thing to stay apprised of news and to participate in online actions to pressure NYBC board members to fulfill their promise to provide lifelong care to their laboratory chimps.

Use the tweet sheet to contact MetLife, NYBC and their stakeholders.

Follow TheirTurn on Twitter, and follow “Save NYBC Chimps”on Instagram and Twitter.


Artist Recruits Counter-Protestors to Discredit Animal Rights Advocates

June 21, 2016 by 3 comments


The News

Duke Riley, an artist who strapped LED lights on the legs of 2,000 pigeons and forced them to fly in the dark, recruited counter-protestors to discredit animal rights advocates who were demonstrating at his “Fly By Night” show, which took place from May 7 to June 19 over the East River in New York City. The counter-protesters wore pigeon masks, held provocative signs and attempted to blend in with the activists.

“The fact that counter protesters appeared is quite suspect,”said Nora Constance Marino of the Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund (ACEF), the animal protection group that organized the demonstration. “They claimed to be there because they disagreed with our position regarding animal cruelty; yet, they made no intelligent statements to support this position. They merely brought nonsense signs and yelled silly chants in an obvious effort to distract. In my opinion, this is evidence that there is no real defense to our claims of animal cruelty.”

Counter-protestor

Counter-protestor

Pigeons, who are strictly daytime animals, have poor nighttime vision and only fly in the dark if disturbed. “Fly By Night” potentially subjects them to stress, disorientation and drowning in the East River.

Creative Time, the arts organization that is funding the pigeon show, claims on its website that the show takes place “when there is still daylight.”

Excerpt from Creative Time's website

Excerpt from Creative Time’s website

However, photos and video taken during “Fly By Night” demonstrate that the pigeons are, in fact, in the air after dark.

Video footage taken at the event shows that the birds were out while there was little to no daylight.

Video footage taken of pigeons flying over the East River

In a post on the Facebook page of Creative Time, Karen Davis, President of the national avian advocacy group United Poultry Concerns, condemned the event: “Perhaps what strikes me most significantly about this Fly By Night exhibit is the part where the pigeons are trying to land and get rest, but are forced to fly even though they are bewildered, scared and exhausted. . . No one who respects pigeons and empathizes with them as fellow creatures would dream of mistreating them so meanly, strapping gadgetry to them, and putting them in danger.”

Pigeons have limited vision in the dark, but they are forced to "Fly By Night" for art exhibit.

Pigeons have limited vision in the dark, but they are forced to “Fly By Night” for art exhibit.

The use of live animals in art exhibits was recently addressed in a CounterPunch article critical of the practice written by Elliot Sperber, a New York-based writer and lawyer.

Your Turn

Sign the petition to end “Fly By Night.”

Post a comment on Creative Time’s Facebook page.

Tweet the organization that is producing the event, Creative Time, and the artist, Duke Riley.


Center of Chimp Abandonment Scandal, Howard Milstein, Now Embroiled in Federal Subprime Loan Trial

June 20, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

Howard Milstein, a multi-billionaire who has been widely criticized over the past year for his role in the NY Blood Center’s (NYBC) decision to abandon 66 chimpanzees in Liberia, is now embroiled in a federal trial regarding subprime loans made by Emigrant Savings Bank, where he serves as CEO.

Howard Milstein

Howard Milstein

According to the New York Times, Milstein expanded a program “that made hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to people with bad credit ratings and no proof that they could pay the money back” but who did “have houses that were rich in equity for collateral.” When Milstein bought Emigrant in 2004, 25% of the bank’s loans were regarded as subprime; by 2009, the number increased to 50%. Such loans are now illegal, but eight families are suing Emigrant, alleging that they were illegal a decade ago as well, largely because they were disproportionately marketed to minorities.

NY Times article reporting on a federal trial regarding subprime loans given by Emigrant Bank when Howard Milstein was its CEO.

NY Times article reporting on a federal trial regarding subprime loans given by Emigrant Bank when Howard Milstein was its CEO.

“Milstein’s exploitation of his customers comes as no surprise to us,” said Roberto Bonelli, one of the organizers of the campaign to compel Milstein and NYBC to reinstate funding for the abandoned chimpanzees. “Someone who is capable of leaving animals to starve to death is certainly capable of exploiting vulnerable humans as well.”  Howard Milstein was the chairman of NYBC’s board when the decision was made to abandon the chimpanzees. He continues to serve in that position.

Animal rights advocates protest and stage a die-in outside Howard Milstein's Park Ave. home on behalf of the chimpanzees abandoned by NYBC when he served as the chairman of its board.

Protesters stage a die-in at Howard Milstein’s Park Ave. home on behalf of the chimpanzees abandoned by NYBC.

In 2015, animal advocates staged approximately 10 protests at Milstein’s Park Avenue and Hamptons homes. According to The Real Deal, a monthly news outlet about the real estate industry, “Animal rights activists…picketed outside the Upper East Side home of the Milstein Properties head…protesting the New York Blood Center chair’s role in the organization’s treatment of research chimpanzees in Africa.”

The Real Deal reports on protests held at Milstein's park ave. home in support of the 66 chimpanzees abandoned by the NY Blood Center.

The Real Deal reports on a protest held at Milstein’s Park Ave. home.

For a 30 year period starting in the mid-1970s, NYBC conducted experiments on over 400 hundred chimpanzees in Liberia, where they could capture, breed and experiment on them with little regulatory oversight. After the research was conducted, NYBC moved the survivors onto six islands with no natural food or water and made a public commitment to provide them with lifelong care.

The NY Blood Center made a promise to provide the chimpanzees with lifelong care.

In 2005, The NY Blood Center promised to provide the chimpanzees with lifelong care.

In May, 2015, the NY Times reported that NYBC had “withdrawn all funding,” leaving the chimps to die of starvation and thirst. In order to keep the chimps alive, Liberians who had been employed by NYBC to deliver food and water, began to care for them on a volunteer basis. With virtually no resources and burdened by the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, these volunteers kept the chimpanzees alive until a coalition of over 30 animal conservation groups, led by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), raised funds from the public to pay for the chimps’ care on an emergency basis.

Young chimpanzee abandoned by the NY Blood Center receives water from a local volunteer.

A volunteer provides water to a chimpanzee abandoned by the NY Blood Center.

The New York Blood Center, which earned an estimated $500 million in royalties off of the research conducted on the chimpanzees, has publicly stated that it has no “contractual obligation” to pay for the chimps’ food and water and has shifted the burden of caring for their captive chimp population to the animal welfare community.

A mother chimpanzee abandoned by the NY Blood Center shares food with her baby.

A chimpanzee abandoned by the NY Blood Center shares food with her baby.

At a press conference on May 19th organized by HSUS, NY State Senator Tony Avella and NY State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal condemned NYBC’s actions and demanded that the group resume funding for the chimps.

New York State senator Tony Avella addresses a demonstration at city hall demanding that NYBC reinstate funding for the care of the chimpanzees it abandoned.

At a press conference at NY City Hall, NY State senator Tony Avella demands that NYBC reinstate funding for the chimpanzees.

Your Turn

Sign the Care2 petition to MetLife, NYBC’s largest corporate donor.

Join the Facebook page: New York Blood Center: Do the Right Thing to stay apprised of news and to participate in online actions to pressure NYBC board members to fulfill their promise to provide lifelong care to their laboratory chimps.

Use the tweet sheet to contact MetLife, NYBC and their stakeholders.

Follow TheirTurn on Twitter, and follow “Save NYBC Chimps” on Instagram and Twitter.


The Rape Rack

June 15, 2016 by 6 comments


The News

Perhaps the only thing that the animal agriculture industry and animal rights activists can agree upon is the name of the device in which dairy cows are impregnated – the “rape rack.”

Female cows restrained in a device reffered to as the "rape rack."

Female cows restrained in a device referred to as the “rape rack”

The “rape rack” is a narrow, chute-like device in which female cows are restrained while they undergo a process the dairy industry euphemistically refers to as “artificial insemination.” During artificial insemination (AI), a dairy worker inserts one of his arms into the rectum of a restrained cow and, with his other arm, inserts a rod-like device called an Al gun into her vagina. The Al gun, which contains bull semen, is pushed in further until it reaches the cervix (the entrance to the uterus). The semen is then injected into the uterus.

A diagram illustrated how to artificially inseminate a female cow.

A diagram illustrates how to artificially inseminate a female cow.

Many supporters of animal rights argue that forcibly impregnating cows constitutes sexual abuse. “As public awareness of its barbaric practices increases, the dairy industry is desperate to whitewash them,” said Kathy Stevens, the Executive Director of Catskill Animal Sanctuary. “They can call this practice ‘artificial insemination’ if they wish, but impregnation against one’s will using forcible restraint pretty much sounds like rape to me.”

A female cow undergoing the process of artificial insemination.

Artificial Insemination

In order to produce milk, cows and other animals used for dairy production must be impregnated each year because their milk production stops at around the time their calves would naturally stop nursing.

To maximize the amount of milk available for human consumption, babies are typically taken away from their mothers within 24 hours of birth, causing profound distress to both the mother and her newborn. Mother cows bellow and call to their babies for days following the separation. Some of the babies are sent directly to the slaughterhouse, to veal farms, or to feedlots; the rest become dairy cows like their mothers.        

Dairy industry diagram illustrates the different ways to profit off of male calves, who cannot produce milk.

Dairy industry diagram illustrates the different ways to profit off of male calves, who cannot produce milk.

The psychological and physical stresses of life in the dairy industry rapidly weaken and/or sicken cows, quickly rendering them unprofitable to their owners. They are therefore sent to slaughter at a fraction of their natural lifespan. When the cows arrive at the slaughter plant, they often need to be dragged to the kill floor because they are too weak to walk.

A cow too weak to walk (downer) is pulled into a truck which will carry her into the slaughter plant.

A cow too weak to walk (downer) is pulled into a truck which will carry her into the slaughter plant.

A 2014 horror film entitled “The Herd” vividly depicts the torment endured by cows in the dairy industry. This film, directed by Melanie Light, portrays a fictional dairy farm in which the cows are replaced with human women.

In an interview with “Shock Till You Drop,” a website devoted to reviewing horror films, Light, who describes herself as a “vegan feminist,” said: “A lot of people don’t make the connection. Being female isn’t exclusive to humans . . .These cows, pigs and sheep are abused for their reproductive systems.”

Over the years, the term “rape rack” has gradually disappeared from the dairy industry’s vernacular. “It used to be common parlance in dairy farming. Today, farmers are far more savvy about terminology—as are other industries that use animals” says Katie Arth of PETA. “As a result, that term has vanished from the farmers’ vocabulary in the same way that ‘iron maidens’ and ‘restraint chairs’ have been renamed ‘sow stalls’ and ‘gentling devices.’ The industry now prefers to use euphemisms such as ‘breeding boxes’ to describe the boxes or chutes where female cows are restrained while a worker forcibly inseminates them.”

A restrained female cow undergoing artificial insemination.

A restrained female cow undergoing artificial insemination

Your Turn

To learn more about artificial insemination please visit Free From Harm.

To learn about other dairy industry practices and undercover investigations done on dairy farms please visit Mercy for Animals.

To watch “The Herd” in full, click here


Neighbors of NY Blood Center Board Member Lash Out at Chimp Advocates During Nighttime Protests

June 13, 2016 by 1 comment


The News

During two nighttime protests at the home of NY Blood Center (NYBC) board member Michael Hodin, many area residents descended from their buildings to express their outrage at being disturbed after dark.

“My baby is sleeping,” said one angry man who confronted the protesters. “Give me your address, and I’ll come to your house.”

Neighbors express their outrage at being disturbed at night by chimp advocates.

Neighbors express their outrage at being disturbed at night by chimp advocates.

Activists began protesting at night only after more than a dozen daytime protests failed to persuade Hodin and his colleagues to reinstate funding for the 66 chimpanzees who they abandoned on islands in Liberia with no food or water.

“Most of these people ignored us for months when we politely asked them to contact Michael Hodin about the chimp crisis, so they shouldn’t be surprised that we came back at night – when we thought we could get their attention.” said Elena Natale, an activist who has protested at the same location several times during the day. “How odd that people explode over an hour’s worth of noise but show no anger at all about the abandonment of 66 chimps despite being made aware of the crisis week after week.”

The blood center did not acknowledge the grass roots campaign demanding that it reinstate funding for the chimps until the activists began protesting at night. “NYBC has made it clear that disruption is the only language they understand,” added Natale.

In a Q&A on its website, NYBC suggests that the chimp advocates are "bullies" who "encourage terrorism."

In a Q&A on its website, NYBC suggests that the chimp advocates are “bullies” who “encourage terrorism.”

In response to the anger, activists told area residents to complain to Michael Hodin and NYBC and noted that they will continue protesting at night until the organization fulfills its promise to provide lifelong care for the chimps.

For a thirty year period starting in the mid-1970s, NYBC conducted experiments on over 400 hundred chimpanzees in Liberia, where they could capture, breed and experiment on them with little regulatory oversight. After the research was conducted, NYBC moved the survivors onto six islands with no natural food or water and made a public commitment to provide them with lifelong care.

Chimps in Liberia left to die by the New York Blood Center

Chimps in Liberia left to die by the New York Blood Center

In May, 2015, the NY Times reported that NYBC had “withdrawn all funding,” leaving the chimps to die of starvation and thirst. In order to keep the chimps alive, Liberians who had been employed by NYBC to deliver food and water, began to care for them on a volunteer basis. With virtually no resources and burdened by the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, these volunteers kept the chimpanzees alive until a coalition of over 30 animal conservation groups, led by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), raised funds from the public to pay for the chimps’ care on an emergency basis.

At a press conference on May 19th organized by HSUS, NY State Senator Tony Avella and NY State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal condemned NYBC’s actions and demanded that the group resume funding for the chimps.

NY State Senator Tony Avella Demands that NY Blood Center reinstates funding for the 66 chimps who they abandoned.

NY State Senator Tony Avella Demands that NY Blood Center reinstates funding for the 66 chimps who they abandoned.

Your Turn

Sign the Care2 petition and NYCLASS petitions to MetLife, NYBC’s largest corporate donor.

Join the Facebook page: New York Blood Center: Do the Right Thing to stay apprised of news and to participate in online actions to pressure NYBC board members to fulfill their promise to provide lifelong care to their laboratory chimps.

Use the tweet sheet to contact MetLife, NYBC and their stakeholders.

Follow TheirTurn on Twitter, and follow “Save NYBC Chimps” on Instagram and Twitter.