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Elected Officials Demand That NY Blood Center Reinstate Funding for Abandoned Chimps (VIDEO)

May 23, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

Elected officials in New York held a press conference at City Hall to demand that the New York Blood Center fulfill its promise to provide lifelong care for the 66 ex-lab chimpanzees who the group abandoned on islands in Liberia with no food or water. The press conference was organized by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which has stepped in on an emergency basis to feed the chimps using money raised through a GoFundMe campaign.

After demanding that NYBC resumes the funding, New York State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal said, “This isn’t a scene out of Lost,” referring to the TV series in which airplane crash survivors are stranded on a desert island. “This is real life for these chimpanzees.”

New York State Senator Tony Avella also condemned NYBC’s decision to abandon the chimpanzees: “They used them for 30 years, and now they just dump them on this island. So we stand here today to tell the New York Blood Center to do the right thing and follow through on your commitment.”

During the press conference, Joyce Friedman, the NYC Coordinator for HSUS, announced that ten New York City Council Members wrote an open letter to the NYBC demanding that the organization resumes funding:

Letter from NYC Council Members to NYBC

Letter from NYC Council Members to NYBC

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.

Liberians hired by HSUS feed the chimps abandoned by the New York Blood Center

Liberians hired by HSUS feed the chimps abandoned by the New York Blood Center (photo: Jeff Topham)

In May, 2015, the NY Times reported that NYBC had “withdrawn all funding,” leaving the chimps to die of starvation and thirst.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 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.

Daily food delivery (photo: Jeff Topham)

Daily food delivery (photo: Jeff Topham)

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.


Animal Rights Activists Protest Live Pigeon Light Show (VIDEO)

May 20, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

Citing animal exploitation and cruelty, at least two dozen activists in NYC staged a protest at “Fly By Night,” a month-long art exhibit during which 2,000 pigeons wearing LED lights are forced to fly in the dark over the East River, potentially subjecting them to stress, disorientation and drowning in the frigid water below. Pigeons, who have poor night vision, only fly during daylight hours.

Protest organizer Nora Constance Marino, President of the Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund, told TheirTurn that the group’s message is very clear: “Animals are not art exhibits.” Marino’s efforts resulted in a New York Times article about the protest, which opens with a strong animal rights message: ‘No one asked 2,000 pigeons if they wanted to have lights strapped to their legs in the name of art. Nor did anyone ask the birds how they felt about being shooed from their homes at dusk and sent flying up to illuminate the Brooklyn sky.”

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

Protester Elena Natale said that several ticket-holders decided to boycott the event after activists explained why using live animals in  art exhibits is inhumane: “While most attendees put on their blinders as they walked past us, several open-minded people wanted to understand why we were protesting.”

"Fly By Night" Ticket holder breaks into tears after speaking to activists

“Fly By Night” Ticket holder breaks into tears after speaking to activists

In a post on the Facebook page of Creative Time, the arts organization that is funding pigeon show, 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.”

From left to right: Disgruntled pigeon, pigeon advocate Tina Trachtenburg

From left to right: Disgruntled pigeon, pigeon advocate Tina Trachtenburg

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.


Sparks Fly During Chimp Protest at Home of MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian

May 16, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

In spite of petitions, protests and letters from concerned citizens around the world, MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian continues to ignore the chimp crisis created by the NY Blood Center (NYBC), so activists took the campaign to his neighbors in Summit, NJ, an exclusive suburb of NYC.

MetLife is the largest corporate donor of the NYBC, which left 66 chimpanzees on islands in Liberia with no food or water after conducting experiments on them for 30 years; earning an estimated $500 million in royalties; and promising to provide them with lifelong care. Since May 2015, advocates worldwide have asked MetLife to hold NYBC accountable, but the company, which prides itself on “corporate social responsibility,” has refused to respond.

Advocates educate MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian's neighbors about his complicity in the abandoned chimp crisis

Advocates educate MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian’s neighbors about his complicity in the abandoned chimp crisis

While most of Mr. Kandarian’s neighbors were eager to hear why advocates were protesting in his neighborhood, one man (wearing pale blue shirt) virtually assaulted them as they marched through the town of Summit, which is one mile away from Mr. Kandarian’s mansion.

An inexplicably angry man in Summit, NJ, aggressively confronts advocates protesting MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian

An inexplicably angry man in Summit, NJ, aggressively confronts advocates protesting MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian

On April 26th, animal rights activists in NYC staged a 30 minute disruption inside of the MetLife building at the height of rush hour. The company’s decision to ignore the protesters instead of engaging them triggered them to take the campaign to the CEO’s hometown.

Kandarian-protest-summit-march

Advocates protesting chimp abandonment march through the town of Summit, NJ

In an article entitled Animal Rights Group Protests Outside of MetLife CEO’s Residence in Summit, Mr. Kandarian’s hometown newspaper published a lengthy story about the protest.

Kandarian-protest-summit-march2

Advocates inform Steven Kandarian’s neighbors about his complicity in the New York Blood Center abandoned chimpanzee crisis

Your Turn

Sign the Care2 petition to MetLife.

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 “Save NYBC Chimps” on Instagram and Twitter.


Artist Straps Lights onto Legs of 2,000 Birds for Art Shows

May 12, 2016 by 12 comments


The News

Though pigeons have poor vision in the dark and fly only during the day, artist Duke Riley is attaching LED lights onto the legs of 2,000 of the birds and forcing them into the air at night, potentially subjecting them to stress, disorientation and drowning in the frigid water below.

Artist Duke Riley straps lights to pigeons' legs and forces them to fly at night (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Artist Duke Riley straps lights to pigeons’ legs and forces them to fly at night (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

With the support of the non-profit public arts organization Creative Time, Mr. Riley is staging 18 “Fly by Night” shows over the East River in NYC from May 7 – June 12.

Bird advocates say that the stress of being forced to fly at night is exacerbated by the potentially blinding lights and the pigeon handlers’ use of poles to prevent the frantic birds from landing on the boat from which they are launched. In a NY Times review of the show, Roberta Smith states that “some [pigeons] regularly attempted to return to the boat only to be gently shooed away by their handlers.” During the performance, kayakers hired by Creative Time patrol the river for fallen birds – a tacit acknowledgment that the artist is putting the bird’s in harm’s way.

Pigeons have limited vision in the dark, but they are forced to fly for art exhibit

Pigeons have limited vision in the dark, but they are forced to fly for art exhibit (photo: Kathy Willens/AP)

“Taunting pigeons with a long pole? Forcing them to fly at night even though they cannot see in the dark? These are unwilling participants, and this is not art; it’s animal cruelty,” said artist Tina Trachtenburg, a NYC-based pigeon advocate who has dedicated her life to being a voice for the oft-marginalized bird.

Pigeon advocate Tina Trachtenburg educates the public about pigeons

Artist and pigeon advocate Tina Trachtenburg educates the public about pigeons

Creative Time, which produces the event, describes it as “a transcendent union of public art and nature” —  “At dusk, a massive flock of pigeons will elegantly twirl, swoop, and glide above the East River, as Riley orchestrates a series of performances occurring regularly throughout late spring. . . The pigeons will circle above the river as the sun sets over Manhattan, and small leg bands, historically used to carry messages, will be replaced with tiny LED lights, illuminating the sky.”

Duke Riley (photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

Duke Riley (photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

Mr. Riley and Creative Time defend the use of pigeons, asserting that they “retained an avian veterinarian who helped establish proper protocols for the health and safety of keeping pigeons” and that an “independent animal advocacy monitor is on hand for all performances.” Animal rights activists, however, argue that the use of protocols and monitors don’t make the use of the pigeons any less inhumane.  “At dusk, these birds would be settled in for the night, not flying into the darkness and not wearing accessories to entertain humans,” said Trachtenberg. A Change.org petition to shut down Fly By Night has collected over 1,000 signatures in two days.

According to Creative Time, the artist will, at the conclusion of the show, “keep many of the pigeons as his pets.” The rest, the organization says, “will be returned to their original owners or be placed with local pigeon fanciers.” Advocates suspect that many of the pigeons will sent to operators of canned hunts.

“Fly By Night” is not Mr. Riley’s first art exhibit with pigeons. In 2013, he strapped black market Cuban cigars and cameras onto dozens of pigeons and forced them to fly 100 miles from Havana to Key West, Florida. The NY Times reported that many of the pigeons died or disappeared in Riley’s “Trading with the Enemy” art project.

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.

If you live in NYC, please participate in the protest organized by the Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund (ACEF) on Sunday, May 15th from 6:30 – 7:30 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

 


Thousands Attend NYC VegFest (VIDEO)

May 11, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

On May 7th and 8th, thousands of people stood in line to enter the explosively popular NYC VegFest. And, according to the many attendees TheirTurn spoke to, it was well worth the wait.

For more information about the event, including vendors and speakers, please visit NYC Veg Food Fest.

Thousands of people line up to enter the NYC Veg Food Fest.

Thousands of people line up to enter the NYC Veg Food Fest.