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Animal Rights Groups Call for New Leadership at HSUS’s Project Chimps

January 25, 2021 by 16 comments


The News

Multiple animal advocacy groups are calling on the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to replace the current leader of its chimpanzee sanctuary with an Executive Director who has chimpanzee experience (petition). The sanctuary, Project Chimps, was thrust into the national spotlight in May, 2020, when 22 employees and volunteers sent a letter to the Board of Directors to sound the alarm about poor veterinary care, overcrowding, a lack of sufficient enrichment and infrequent access to the outdoors.  The death of Alex, a chimpanzee whose symptoms were ignored by Project Chimps leadership, has created an added sense of urgency around this demand.

“While Project Chimps has made some cosmetic changes as a result of increased public scrutiny and primatologist Steve Ross’s blistering critique of its welfare management programs, the organization’s leadership continues  needlessly compromise the health and wellbeing of the chimpanzees,” said Crystal Alba, a whistleblower who the organization sued in 2020. “Until it is managed by someone who has chimpanzee experience and who prioritizes animal welfare, Project Chimps will continue to fail the chimpanzees in its care.”

In January, 2020, HSUS conducted an internal investigation of its sanctuary after receiving complaints about animal mistreatment by employees. In her report, Katie Conlee, HSUS’s  Vice President of Animal Research Issues, wrote, “the root causes of various problems appear to be inadequate management.”

The Humane Society’s internal investigation of Project Chimps revealed that “the root causes of various problems appear to be inadequate management.”

An inspection conducted by an external expert in October and November also exposed deficiencies in the organization’s leadership. Dr. Steve Ross, a renowned primatologist, gave Project Chimps a D grade (67%) on its welfare management programs as part of his highly anticipated assessment of the sanctuary. Welfare management programs are the responsibility of the organization’s leadership.

Dr. Steve Ross, a renowned primatologist, gave Project Chimps a D grade on its welfare management programs, which are the responsibility of the organization’s Executive Director

In 2020, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) took the unusual step of issuing public statements calling for reform at Project Chimps, though neither made specific recommendations regarding the organization’s leadership.

Animal rights groups, including The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have called on HSUS to improve animal welfare at Project Chimps

At Project Chimps, the 78 chimpanzees have access to an outdoor habitat for approximately 10 hours per week. For the remainder of the time, they are held in concrete enclosures. Local and national animal advocacy groups are calling on Project Chimps to create additional habitats so that the chimps have daily access to the outdoors.

Roxy and Lindsey, two of the 78 chimpanzees at HSUS’s Project Chimps facility in Georgia

 

 


Cockfighters Attack SHARK Investigators, Sending Them to the Hospital with Severe Injuries

January 3, 2021 by 22 comments


The News

On Sunday morning, January 3rd, two investigators from the animal rights group SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness) investigated a suspected illegal cockfighting operation in rural Lawrence County, OH. They were quickly able to confirm that the location was an active cockfighting pit.

Undercover investigators with the animal rights group SHARK identified an illegal cockfighting operation in Ohio

Soon after they arrived, SHARK President Steve Hindi was violently attacked, suffering multiple head and chest injuries. Another SHARK investigator, who was in a vehicle, was chased by cockfighters who hit his car multiple times and drove him off the road and into a ditch. He survived the attack.

Steve Hindi, founder of the animal rights group SHARK, was attacked by cockfighters on January 3rd, 2020

“These are serious crimes, and SHARK will be aggressively pursuing justice against these violent and disgusting cockfighters,” said SHARK investigator Stu Chaifetz. “We will have much more about this in the near future, but the cockfighters need to know that SHARK will never stop exposing them and their vile cruelty.”

Cockfighters in Ohio ran a SHARK investigator off the road, assaulted him and stole his video equipment

SHARK uses high tech video equipment to document many blood sports, including rodeos, pigeon shoots and cockfighting. During cockfights, which are illegal in all 50 states, roosters who are trained to kill fight each other wearing sharp blades on their legs.

In recent years, SHARK has used drones to film cockfights and farmers who are suspected of breeding roosters for cockfights. In 2019, the group announced a nationwide campaign called Crush Cockfighting to increase exposure of the bloodsport and to draw attention to the law enforcement officials who enable the illegal events.

Please call or write today to report suspected cockfighting operations. You can remain anonymous. tips@sharkonline.org or 630-385-0244.


Neighbors Lash Out During Animal Rights Protest Against HSUS

December 21, 2020 by 6 comments


The News

Neighbors lashed out as animal rights activists in NYC staged a third protest at the Upper East Side home of Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) board member Sharon Lee Patrick over her ongoing refusal to address the poor welfare conditions at Project Chimps, an HSUS chimpanzee sanctuary in Georgia. The protest comes after Dr. Steve Ross, a renowned primatologist, gave Project Chimps a D grade (67%) on its welfare management programs as part of a highly anticipated assessment of the sanctuary that he conducted in October and November.

In June, Project Chimps was thrust into the national spotlight when it sued two whistleblowers who came forward with extensive evidence of animal mistreatment. The lawsuit triggered animal rights activists, who rely on whistleblowing as a tool to expose animal abuse, to protest several members of HSUS’s Board of Directors, including Sharon Lee Patrick in New York; Brad Jakeman in Sag Harbor; Steven White in Los Angeles; and Susan Atherton in San Francisco.

In May, 2020, 22 Project Chimps employees and volunteers sent a letter to the board to voice their concerns about animal welfare conditions at the sanctuary, including poor veterinary care, overcrowding, rushed chimpanzee introductions and a lack of sufficient enrichment. Among the most contentious issues raised in the letter is infrequent access to the outdoors. According to the whistleblowers, the 78 chimpanzees at Project Chimps have access to the outdoor habitat for an average of just 10 hours a week. They spend the rest of the time in concrete enclosures. This deficiency triggered the legal advocacy group Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to issue a public statement calling on HSUS and Project Chimps to provide the chimpanzees with daily access to an outdoor habitat. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has also spoken out publicly on behalf of the chimpanzees.

Animal rights activists are demanding that the Humane Society of the United States transform Project Chimps from a “warehouse” into the sanctuary that they claim it is

In October, 2020, the animal rights groups Progress For Science, Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) and TheirTurn sent letters to three celebrities who serve as members of the board of Project Chimps asking them to intervene on behalf of the chimpanzees.  Actresses Amber Nash and Judy Greer and musician Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day neither responded to nor acknowledged the letters.

In July, Project Chimps dismissed the lawsuit against the whistleblowers, but activists have vowed to continue protesting HSUS until the organization installs leaders at Project Chimps who have chimpanzee experience; who command the respect of their staff and peers in the primate sanctuary community; and who instinctively prioritize the welfare of the animals. Activists are also demanding that Project Chimps add two board members with captive chimpanzee experience.

Animal rights groups, including The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have called on HSUS to improve animal welfare at Project Chimps


Inspection Confirms Allegations of Animal Welfare Failures at HSUS’s Project Chimps

December 15, 2020 by 20 comments


The News

A highly anticipated “Chimp Welfare Assessment” conducted by renowned primatologist Dr. Steve Ross documented inadequate veterinary care, insufficient access to the outdoors and an inexperienced staff at Project Chimps, a Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) sanctuary in Georgia with 78 chimpanzees. The assessment, which examines welfare management programs, spaces and socialization, was conducted in November 2020 in response to public outcry generated by evidence of animal cruelty posted on HelpTheChimps.org by two whistleblowers who worked with the chimps, Crystal Alba and Lindsay Vanderhoogt.

Chimp Welfare Management Programs

In the programs category,  Dr. Ross gave Project Chimps a D (67%). This category assesses veterinary services, enrichment, training, safety, staffing and diet. According to Dr. Ross, “There is relatively little veterinary experience” and “veterinary resources are moderate.” 

For years, Project Chimps employees and volunteers have privately – and ultimately publicly – raised concerns about substandard, dangerous and inhumane veterinary care. Even with well-documented, specific examples, HSUS and Project Chimps routinely dismissed staff and volunteer complaints about veterinary care.

Whistleblowers posted evidence of poor veterinary care at HelpTheChimps.org

Dr. Ross also addresses the “low experience level” of the staff, which Project Chimps attributes to a small pool of potential applicants. According to the whistleblowers, however, the experience level is low because Project Chimps has fired several highly experienced veterinarians and caregivers who voiced concerns about welfare issues and replaced them with junior, inexperienced and malleable staff members. Project Chimps claims that inexperienced staffers can learn on the job, but former staff members note that the organization no longer employs experienced managers who can adequately train junior staff.

Chimp Spaces

In the “spaces” category, Dr. Ross gave Project Chimps a B- (81%). This category encompasses the “physical housing of the chimpanzees, including environmental complexity and opportunities for choice.” Dr. Ross noted that “a substantial drawback of the space was the relatively limited access to the outdoor yards.” 

At Project Chimps, the 78 chimpanzees are held in concrete enclosures for all but 10 hours a week, according to whistleblowers

According to the whistleblowers, the 78 chimpanzees have access to the habitat for approximately 10 hours per week. They spend the remainder of the time in concrete enclosures.

Even before Project Chimps creates additional yards on its 200 acre property, it could, according to former staffers, increase outdoor time for all of the chimps in the current habitat if management made it a priority. 

On occasion, the chimps are denied their scheduled time in the outdoor habitat when a paid tour group is on site. That is because management will put out a chimp group that is more likely to entertain visitors. This was a source of frustration for Crystal Alba, the whistleblower: “Sanctuaries are supposed to prioritize the welfare of the animals, not the amusement of the tour groups.”

The 78 chimpanzees at Project Chimps have access to an outdoor habitat for approximately 10 hours per week. They spend the remainder of their days in concrete porches that HSUS and Project Chimps describe as “outdoors”

Chimp Social Life

A third section of the report grades the sanctuary on the “social life of the chimpanzees living in their groups.” In this category, Dr. Ross gives Project Chimps an A (94%). This score reflects the fact that the chimps live in robust social groups. However, Dr. Ross explicitly stated that he did not observe every chimp at the facility or assess the social condition of individual chimps. 

The Release of the Report

On October 24th, Dr. Ross publicly stated that he was finalizing his assessment and would post it on his ChimpCare website in November. That never happened. On November 30th, he posted just a brief synopsis of his assessment and wrote that Project Chimps “has been provided a detailed report.”

Instead of posting the stand alone report, Project Chimps created a new document that featured its own responses to the report alongside a blurry, illegible version of the report itself. Due to public pressure, Project Chimps eventually posted a somewhat more legible version of Dr. Ross’s report, but it is still difficult to read and is “covered up” by Project Chimps’ responses (see image below).

Instead of posting Dr. Steve’s Ross’s assessment of the sanctuary, Project Chimps created a response document that blurred Dr. Ross’s report.

The duplicitous way in which this report has been released reinforces the mistrust that exists among the growing number of whistleblowers, advocates and donors who have been speaking out about the lack of proper leadership and egregious welfare issues at Project Chimps. It also leaves advocates asking several questions: 

  1. Why didn’t Dr. Ross publish the full report on his ChimpCare website in the first place?  
  2. Once he saw that Project Chimps posted a marked up, blurry version of his report, why didn’t Dr. Ross post the report on his own website?
  3. Given that Dr. Ross is a published, well regarded scientist, wouldn’t he want his peers in the science and primate sanctuary communities to have the opportunity to review the complete report, which is the first one produced using his ChimpCare tool? 

In response to some of these questions, Dr. Ross tweeted on December 10th that “it was never communicated that the full report would be public,” but that contradicts the October 24th tweet in which he stated that his report will be posted on ChimpCare.org in November. It also flies in the face of transparency, standard scientific principles and research practices. To assess the validity of research findings, the complete methodology and analyses should be made available for review. Dr. Ross published the equivalent of an abstract.

Based on Dr. Steve Ross’s tweets and social media posts by HSUS and Project Chimps, the activist groups advocating on behalf of the chimps assumed that Dr. Ross would post his complete report.

The assessment conducted by Dr. Ross was commissioned by the Arcus Foundation.

The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries Inspection

In February 2020, about five months before Dr. Ross began his assessment, the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) conducted a one-day inspection at Project Chimps. While HSUS claimed that “Project Chimps invited GFAS to provide an objective outside assessment,” Crystal Alba said that the “inspection was conducted in direct response to whistleblower complaints and under pressure from PETA.”

After the GFAS inspection, HSUS claimed that “the assessment confirmed that claims alleging mistreatment of chimpanzees are unfounded and misleading.”  Alba, who was present for the investigation, disputes HSUS’s claim. “The two inspectors did not attempt to hide how unhappy they were about the nesting material, lack of climbing structures, small living areas and more. Project Chimps was required to address these issues as a result of this inspection.”

While GFAS, HSUS and Project Chimps refused to make that report public, Project Chimps did post seven recommendations made by GFAS which corroborated the whistleblower complaints.

The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) made some of the same recommendations as the whistleblowers to improve the welfare of the chimps

In a public statement about the GFAS report posted on August 15th, HSUS wrote that Project Chimps “completed” implementing GFAS’s recommendations. In the same statement, HSUS wrote that the GFAS report exonerated them: “That assessment confirmed that claims alleging mistreatment of chimpanzees were unfounded.”

How can HSUS and Project Chimps claim that welfare issues have been fixed in the same statement in which it claims they didn’t exist in the first place? 

Furthermore, if the problems raised by GFAS were, in fact, fixed, then how does HSUS explain the D grade for welfare management programs that Dr. Ross gave Project Chimps less than six months later? 

The Internal Investigation

In December 2019 (before the GFAS and Ross investigations), multiple chimpanzee caregivers and sanctuary volunteers began to contact outside agencies because Project Chimps executives and board members refused to acknowledge or address the welfare issues at the sanctuary. In response, Project Chimps announced that it would initiate aninternal investigation.” This investigation was conducted by Katie Conlee, an HSUS employee who also serves as Vice President of the Board of Project Chimps. 

According to Alba, “Staff eagerly awaited the results of the Conlee investigation, but they were never allowed to see them. They were simply told that the Conlee investigation found no problems with operations at Project Chimps. When the Conlee report was leaked, we realized that the intent of the investigation was to discredit and silence employees, not to address the welfare issues they raised.”

The leaked report showed that Conlee did document management problems. She wrote, The investigation has revealed that the root causes of various problems appear to be inadequate management, communications and transparency regarding concerns raised by staff and subsequent decision making.”  The whistleblowers and other activists advocating on behalf of the chimps argue that, in order for animal welfare issues to be resolved, the management needs to be replaced.

Assessment Report Raises More Questions

The fact that Dr. Ross’s assessment corroborates the whistleblower complaints about poor veterinary care, inadequate access to the outdoors and inexperienced staff begs the following questions. 

1. How do HSUS and Project Chimps reconcile the findings of Dr. Ross’s report with their multiple public statements claiming that chimp care is excellent and that welfare concerns are invalid?

Between 2016 and 2019, approximately 15 employees, volunteers and donors submitted complaints about animal welfare to the management and board of Project Chimps. According to Vanderhoogt, several of the people who raised concerns, including veterinarians, vet techs and caregivers, were fired. Alba, who served as both a chimp caregiver and the staff photographer, was one of them. Many other employees who came forward were “bullied” into silence.

Throughout 2020, HSUS repeatedly claimed that outside inspectors have indicated that animal care is excellent at Project Chimps when they have, in fact, corroborated many of serious animal welfare problems exposed by whistleblowers.

In January 2020, the Board’s President, Bruce Wagman sent an email to employees and volunteers dismissing the complaints. “We found zero actual problems in the chimpanzee welfare area, and zero valid concerns with our veterinary efforts.” Alba notes that, prior to becoming the Chairman of the Board of Project Chimps, Wagman had no chimpanzee experience. 

In May 2020, 22 whistleblowers who worked or volunteered at Project Chimps sent a letter to Wagman requesting a meeting with the Board to discuss their concerns. Wagman again dismissed their concerns as “unfounded” and “untrue” and stated that, “we will not engage on this matter with you moving forward.” 

Letter to Project Chimps Board of Directors signed by 22 staffers and volunteers who worked at the sanctuary

Throughout 2020, other former employees of Project Chimps posted testimonials about animal welfare issues, despite their concerns about retribution by HSUS and Project Chimps. The following testimonial was posted on July 14th by Michael Cullen-Bedoya, who worked as a chimpanzee caregiver.

In spite of concerns about retribution by HSUS and Project Chimps, former employees of Project Chimps have posted testimonials about animal welfare issues. This one was posted on July 14, 2020

2. Now that the whistleblower allegations have been corroborated by Dr. Ross’s assessment, will Project Chimps and HSUS apologize for suing them?

While employed by Project Chimps as an animal caregiver, Alba documented many of the animal welfare infractions that she observed, including untreated wounds, insufficient enrichment, infrequent access to the outdoors, the elimination of substrate and rushed introductions. When her three year effort to effect change from within the organization failed, Alba, in collaboration with Vanderhoogt, posted this documentation online. Taking a page out of the playbook of the animal agriculture industry, Project Chimps filed a lawsuit to intimidate and silence them. 

On June 1st, 2020, Project Chimps filed a lawsuit against whistleblowers Crystal Alba and Lindsay Vanderhoogt in an attempt to intimidate and silence them.

Even though HSUS held 6 of the 11 seats on Project Chimps’ board and paid the salary of the organization’s Executive Director, HSUS tried to distance itself from the lawsuit, claiming it had no decision-making power. HSUS also refused to condemn the lawsuit, even though whistleblowing is a vital tool employed by animal advocacy organizations, including HSUS. 

Angered by the lawsuit and chimp mistreatment, animal rights activists began targeting HSUS board members with protests. Soon after a protest at the San Francisco home of HSUS Board Chair Susan Atherton, Project Chimps dropped the lawsuit. 

The Project Chimps lawsuit sent a chilling message to advocates at other institutions who might have come forward to blow the whistle about animal abuse. If a self-proclaimed animal protection organization like HSUS supports the use of litigation to silence people reporting animal abuse, then companies that earn profits off of abuse would assuredly do the same.

Criticism from National Animal Rights Groups

In October, 2020, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), animal rights organization that seeks to upgrade the legal status of animals, took the unusual step of speaking out publicly about the welfare conditions at Project Chimps after HSUS dismissed its concerns about Hercules and Leo, chimpanzees who ended up at Project Chimps after NhRP liberated them from a laboratory in New York.

In its statement, NhRP wrote, “We demand that Project Chimps and HSUS take whatever steps and devote whatever resources are necessary to immediately provide them with daily access to an outdoor habitat, either at Project Chimps or any other suitable place. We also strongly urge Project Chimps and HSUS to immediately take concrete action to enable the other chimpanzees at Project Chimps to have daily access to the outdoors, not two or more years from now, but today.”

After successfully liberating chimpanzees Hercules and Leo from a laboratory in Stonybrook, New York, attorneys with the Nonhuman Rights Project are having to once again fight to free them.  They are demanding that HSUS and Project Chimps provide them with access to the outdoors every day

In July, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) posted a statement in support of the whistleblowers. 

National Geographic Investigation

On July 9th, National Geographic published an in depth, investigative story about the animal cruelty allegations. While it includes statements from both sides, the story paints a grim and disturbing picture of animal welfare that corroborates the allegations of the whistleblowers.

National Geographic investigative story about animal mistreatment at HSUS’s chimpanzee sanctuary, Project Chimps

In July, Progress for Science, TheirTurn and primatologist Bob Ingersoll began staging protests at the homes of HSUS board members, including Brad Jakeman (Sag Harbor, NY), Steven White (Santa Monica, CA), Sharon Lee Patrick (NYC); and Susan Atherton (San Francisco).

HSUS Response

After Dr. Ross announced a D grade (67%) for animal welfare programs, HSUS was left with no choice but to acknowledges that Project Chimps needs to institute welfare reforms. By stating that it plans to help Project Chimps “prioritize the improvements that are most important,” HSUS unwittingly admits that many reforms are, in fact, needed. Nevertheless, HSUS used its public statement about the report as another opportunity to discredit the whistleblowers that recommended the reforms in the first place: “This independent assessment. .. confirms that allegations of abuse are profoundly off the mark.”  Dr. Ross’s report doesn’t address the whistleblowers’ specific allegations of abuse, such as leaving open wounds untreated and depriving a particular chimp group of access to the outdoor habitat for eight months. In fact, Dr. Ross noted on his website that the grades “do not make any attempt to adjudicate past practices.”  

Given that Dr. Ross gave Project Chimps a D grade on animal welfare programs, HSUS was forced to acknowledge that welfare reforms are needed. It continued, however, to discredit the whistleblowers who made the same recommendations

In public statements posted after previous inspections revealed animal welfare issues, HSUS similarly spun the results instead of accepting responsibility for the welfare failures. Multiple reputable parties—including a primate expert with years of experience, a renowned chimpanzee veterinarian, a sanctuary-accrediting organization and several government inspectors—have visited Project Chimps, assessed the facilities, program and animals there and have concluded that the chimpanzees are well cared for.”

What’s Next?

Under the current management, Project Chimps has subjected the 78 chimpanzees in its care to gross mistreatment. It has also mistreated its employees by suing whistleblowers; threatening “disciplinary action” against employees who, out of desperation, addressed their concerns with external organizations; firing those with the most experience and bullying others into silence or resigning.

According to former employees and volunteers, the welfare reforms proposed by Dr. Ross in his report can only be implemented under the right leadership — leaders who have chimpanzee experience; who command the respect of their staff and peers in the primate sanctuary community; and who instinctively prioritize the welfare of the animals. In addition to new management, Project Chimps needs to have at least two board members with captive chimpanzee experience.

Until HSUS and Projects Chimps do the right thing, advocates around the country vow to hold them accountable. 

From left to right. Animal rights activists protest at Ryland, a clothing store in Sag Harbor, New York,  co-owned by HSUS board member Brad Jakeman. Activists in San Francisco protest at the home of Susan Atherton, the co-chair of HSUS’s Board of Directors. Both Jakeman and Atherton have posted photos online in which they are wearing real fur.


Animal Rights Activists Rescue 510 Chickens From Slaughter

December 7, 2020 by 1 comment


The News

As COVID-19 blazed a trail of sickness and death through Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community during the summer of 2020, animal rights activists in NYC thought that the Department of Health (DOH) would cancel the annual Kaporos chicken slaughter events, which were scheduled to take place from September 20 – 27.  The DOH knew that these large, crowded, semi-enclosed gatherings could be super-spreader events and that the participants would not be wearing masks. The DOH also knew that Kaporos could put the public at risk of another zoonotic disease outbreak, as ritual practitioners physically handle live animals in the makeshift wet markets. In spite of these risks and the fact that seven health codes are violated during Kaporos, the City allowed the annual slaughter to take place.

During Kaporos, an estimated 100,000 chickens are trucked into Brooklyn; held in crates on the street for up to a week; and swung in the air by practitioners before being killed in approximately 30 open air slaughterhouses erected on residential streets. The blood, feces and body parts of the chickens contaminate the sidewalks and streets for several days, exposing New Yorkers to E. coli, campylobacter and other pathogens and toxins, according to a renowned toxicologist hired by area residents who sued the DOH and NYPD over their failure to enforce the City’s health laws. 

Public health and animal rights activists have been sounding the alarm about the risks to public health posed by the Kaporos. If a zoonotic disease spilled over into humans at a Kaporos wet market, it could spread like wildfire in densely populated NYC before health officials even detected it.

In early September, when the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos came to the realization that Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi and Deputy Commissioner of Disease Control Demetre Daskalakis would be allowing Kaporos to take place, Jill Carnegie, the organization’s field director, began working with fellow rescue organizers to ramp up placement efforts for the chickens. They found homes for 275, but she knew from previous years that additional sanctuaries and homes would volunteer to take many more once the rescues began.

In the days leading up to Yom Kippur, hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews around the world engage in a ritual animal sacrifice called Kaporos.

During Kaporos, the all-volunteer rescue operation begins as soon as the chickens are unloaded from the flatbed trucks that transport them to Brooklyn from the factory farms in New Jersey and Pennsylvania where they are fattened for the first five weeks of their lives. Armed with the crates and blankets, Carnegie and other rescuers search the streets of Brooklyn’s Hasidic neighborhoods for chickens; rescue the ones who are unattended; and whisk them away to a triage center where chicken care experts from Tamerlaine Sanctuary provide them with nourishment and first aid as they determine whether or not they need more advanced veterinary care. According to Carnegie, rescuers transported 30 chickens to the vet, 15 of whom had wings or toes amputated.

Kaporos chickens in transit from a triage center in Brooklyn to Tamerlaine Sanctuary in NJ. Some of the chickens require surgery for broken wings and toes.

After seven days of rescues, Carnegie and her fellow rescuers ended up with 510 chickens, who they treated and transported to dozens of sanctuaries and homes around the country — from Maine to Arizona.

In 2019, TheirTurn documented the rescue operation:

In the weeks after Kaporos ended, COVID infections spiked in most of the neighborhoods where Kaporos took place. The city designated these areas as red zones and shut down the schools and non-essential businesses. Activists were left wondering how many lives – human and nonhuman – could have been spared if Dr. Chokshi and Dr. Daskalakis stopped Kaporos from happening.

The chickens used in the Kaporos ritual are slaughtered when they are five or six weeks old. Most appear to be fully grown because farmers feed them hormones and antibiotics to make the grow quickly, but this rescue looked her age.