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In May, 2015, the NY Times reported that NYBC had “withdrawn all funding,” leaving the chimps to die of starvation and thirst.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