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Rescued Chimps Get a Second Chance

July 15, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

By the time orphaned chimps arrive at Liberia Chimp Rescue & Protection’s (LCRP) new sanctuary, they have experienced more tragedy than most humans will experience in a lifetime. That’s because they watched poachers kill their mothers for bushmeat before kidnapping them and hauling them out of their forest home in an attempt to sell them as exotic pets. 

“Most of the orphans are inconsolable when they arrive,” Jenny Desmond, who, along with her husband Jim, created LCRP. “You can see the heartbreak in their eyes.”

When orphaned chimps arrive at Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection, caregivers work to help them recover from the trauma of losing their families; being kidnapped from the forest and being held captive by poachers. (photo: Jenny Desmond)

When government authorities deliver baby chimps to LCRP after confiscating them from poachers, Jenny and Jim swing into action right away, assigning a human caregiver to be the baby’s surrogate mother. With the support and guidance from the Desmonds, who have spent their careers working at sanctuaries, the caregivers spend the next days, weeks and months helping the chimps recover by bottle feeding them, playing with them, introducing them to other orphans, sleeping next to them and ultimately integrating them into a chimp group. In time, most of the chimps recover from their trauma and find happiness at the sanctuary.

“These babies should be in the forest, but, because poachers killed their mothers and families, they have to be raised by humans,” said Jenny Desmond. “We are their surrogate mothers – day and night. At about age five, wild chimpanzees start sleeping separately from their mothers, so we use this, along with their needs and personalities, to determine when they’re ready to fully integrate into our older nursery group and spend their days and nights with other chimps.”

Jenny Desmond, co-founder of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection, plays with an orphaned chimp

The Desmonds hope that they can one day return some of these chimps to their natural habitat in the Liberian forests, which have an estimated 7,000 wild chimps remaining. Re-introduction, however, is a complicated, long-term process. In the meantime, they are creating as natural a life as possible for the chimps in a sanctuary setting. 

Jim Desmond, co-founder of LCRP and caregiver Annie, act as surrogate parents for the orphaned chimps.

The Desmonds arrived in Liberia in 2015 to take care of another population of chimps — the 66 who were abandoned on deserted islands by the New York Blood Center. Within weeks of their arrival, however, the FDA (Forestry Development Authority) knocked on their front door and dropped off two infants. In just over a year, that number has grown to 16.  The Desmonds have outgrown their space and plan to move to a more remote location in the forest where the babies can, along with their human caregivers and other chimps, can live in a semi-wild environment with minimal human contact.

As babies become adolescents, they are integrated into chimp groups and spend less time interacting with humans.

“Chimps are wild animals, not pets,” said Desmond. “Ideally, the only people who should be interacting with them are their surrogate mothers who provide them with the parenting and TLC that they need to survive during their first several years of life.” 

The Desmonds are working with government authorities and other NGOs to protect chimpanzees, a critically endangered species, in their forest home. Combatting Liberia’s illegal bushmeat and exotic pet trades means far fewer baby chimps will be orphaned and need sanctuary. They hope that ecotourism – trekking to see habituated chimps in the forest – can eventually be a source of income for those who are now poaching chimps and selling their meat. “Chimps are a valuable renewable resource for Liberians, as mountain gorillas are for Rwandans, but that means protecting them instead of killing them,” said Desmond. 

Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP)

Between protecting wild chimps in the forest and raising orphaned chimps at the sanctuary, the Desmonds have a lot of work to do – in a difficult setting. Thankfully, they have a team of dedicated caregivers at LCRP who genuinely love the chimps and their jobs.

Your Turn

Please follow Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection on Facebook by giving their page a “like.”

Please make a contribution to support the life saving work of LCRP.

Dedicated caregivers at LCRP help orphaned chimps recover from the emotional trauma of losing their families.


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Fur Sales On The Rise

July 5, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

There is a perception in the animal rights community that fur consumption is declining when, in fact, it is on the rise.

  • From 1990 – 2015, fur sales in the U.S. grew by approximately 50%
  • From 2013 to 2014, U.S. fur sales grew by 7.3%
  • In 2014, fur sales in the U.K. increased by 20%
  • From 2011 – 2013, global fur sales jumped by more than 50% – from $16 billion to $36 billion

According to the Fur Information Council of America (FICA), the largest U.S. fur industry association, the number of designers who use fur has dramatically increased, climbing from 42 in 1985 to approximately 500 today. FICA also asserts that 55% of the people who buy fur today are under 44, dispelling the myth that fur is primarily consumed by older people.

A 2015 article by the Guardian documented the rise of the fur industry.

A 2015 article published in the Guardian documented the rise of the fur industry.

“The fur industry’s statistics reflect what we’re seeing in the streets — that fur consumption is on the rise,” said Edita Birnkrant, Campaigns Director for Friends of Animals, an international animal advocacy group. “For the sake of the animals, we have to organize and take a more aggressive approach on their behalf.”

Friends of Animals holds in store protests and puts up anti-fur billboards.

Friends of Animals holds in store protests and puts up anti-fur billboards.

The increase in fur sales can be attributed to many variables, including high demand from China; the use of technology to make fur suitable for warm climates; the growing use of fur trim; the increased use of fur in men’s clothing; the growing practice of dying fur; and the consumption of fur among celebrities with a large social media following. According to Mark Oaten, CEO of the International Fur Federation, “…with this increase in demand, farmers are deciding to invest more in fur farms and increase production.”

Dying fur and the growing use of fur trim has led to an increase in fur sales and by extension in the number of fur farms.

Dying fur and the growing use of fur trim have led to an increase in fur sales and, by extension, the number of fur farms.

While the animal rights community appears to be losing the war against the fur trade (despite occasional victories), some activists have responded to the increased prevalence of fur by engaging in more provocative anti-fur tactics. During the past several winters, activists Robert Banks and Angela Dee from NYC, the nation’s fur capital (according to FICA), have posted videos on social media in which they publicly shame fur wearers. The videos, which also include graphic footage of animal cruelty in the fur industry, have garnered millions of views. “If people know that by wearing fur they are risking public humiliation, perhaps they will think twice before draping themselves in the skins of tortured and murdered animals,” said Robert Banks.

Many self-proclaimed animal rights activists have denounced their tactics, claiming that they are misogynistic. In response to this allegation, Angela Dee said “It is not our fault that most fur wearers are women. By this logic, shouldn’t protesting rape also be sexist since most rapists are men?”

anti-fur activists shaming two fur wearers

Anti-fur activists shaming fur wearers

One of their videos has made an especially large impact. It shows a trapped coyote being shot dead juxtaposed with the logo of Canada Goose, a Canadian manufacturer of luxury apparel that uses real coyote fur. After being promoted by PETA, the video, which was viewed over 16 million times on Facebook, triggered a Twitter campaign. Canada Goose took notice and responded with a Facebook post stating, “In response to the recent campaign from PETA, we know and deeply respect that whether or not people want to wear fur is a personal choice…We read and hear all of your feedback.” Canada Goose also claimed that its fur is “responsibly sourced.”

Canada Goose responded to the video and PETA's campaign with a Facebook post

Canada Goose responded to the video and PETA’s campaign with a Facebook post

According to Born Free USA, a national animal advocacy organization, over 50 million animals are killed every year by the fur industry across the globe. Fur farmed animals spend their lives in small cages where they go insane from the stress of confinement and rarely receive veterinary care. The animals are killed in ways that are inexpensive and that do the least damage to their pelts — gassing, anal/vaginal electrocution, neck breaking, poisoning, or by bludgeoning them to death. Wild caught animals can suffer for days in painful traps and snares from exposure to the elements, hunger, and thirst before being shot or bludgeoned to death by a trapper. According to Born Free USA, the number of trappers in the U.S. has increased by 20% since 2004.

fur farmed animals spend their lives in filthy overcrowded cages and rarely receive veterinary care.

Fur farmed animals spend their lives in filthy, overcrowded cages and rarely receive veterinary care.

Most fur comes from China where animal protection laws are virtually non-existent. PETA undercover investigations on Chinese fur farms have revealed animals being skinned alive. They have also shown that dogs and cats are kidnapped and sold into the fur trade.

investigations on Chinese fur farms have revealed horrific cruelty and that dogs and cats are killed for their fur.

Investigations on Chinese fur farms have revealed horrific cruelty and that dogs and cats are killed for their fur.

Your Turn

  • Keep apprised of legislation that affects the fur industry and take action at Born Free.
  • To participate in anti-fur protests in your area please sign up to PETA’s action center.
  • Contact your House representative and ask him/her to co-sponsor the “Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act” which would “ban the import, export, and interstate commerce of both steel-jaw leghold traps and Conifer traps,” two of the cruelest devices used to capture fur-bearing animals.
  • If you see someone wearing fur, film your encounter and post it on social media.

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Endangered Species Under Attack

June 30, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

During the past several years, Congress has been waging a war on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a federal law that has been instrumental in protecting animals (and plants) threatened with extinction. Between 2011 and 2015 alone, over 50 bills have been introduced, largely by Republicans, targeting the ESA.

The Endangered Species Act, which was signed by President Nixon in 1973, protects species threatened with extinction such as the ocelot and the California tiger salamander.

In 1973, President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act, which protects species threatened with extinction such as the ocelot (top) and the California tiger salamander (bottom). (tiger salamander photo: Gary Nafis)

The most recent bill, the “Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act” (May 18, 2016), would do the following, if passed into law:

  • Delist a species after five years (ESA protection would only be reinstated by a joint resolution in Congress)
  • Remove ESA protection from all Puerto Rican and Hawaiian species
  • Remove ESA protection from species endemic to one state
  • Require approval by both the states and Congress to grant ESA protection to a species
  • Allow government officials to ignore petitions seeking the addition of a species to the endangered species list

Defenders of Wildlife, a U.S.-based conservation group, estimates that 900 species could lose their ESA protection if this bill is passed.

The crested honeycreeper (left) and the akekee (right), both from Hawaii, would lose their protection under the Endangered Species Management Self Determination Act.

The crested honeycreeper (left) and the akekee (right), both from Hawaii, would lose their protection under the Endangered Species Management Self Determination Act. (honeycreeper photo: Jack Jeffrey, akekee photo: Eric Vanderwer)

Other attacks on the ESA include bills that would require the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to publicly share data on where endangered animals reside, including detailed maps (ex. S. 292) — information that would make poaching easier. Members of Congress have also introduced bills to sabotage the process of granting a species protection by requiring the inclusion of inaccurate/outdated data (provided by state governments) in the decision-making process (ex. S. 736). Another commonly used Congressional tactic is to limit funds for upholding the ESA.

The introduced bills S.292 and S.736 both attempt to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

S.292 and S.736 attempt to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

Over 100 bills have been introduced targeting individual species. Three recent bills, when combined, would prevent grey wolves from being listed as endangered or threatened in six states. Management of the grey wolf populations would also be returned to the states, a move which has, in the past, led to mass slaughter.

When Wyoming gained control of its grey wolf population in 2012 over 200 wolves were killed.

When Wyoming gained control of its grey wolf population in 2012 over 200 wolves were killed.

Another bill – the “Mexican Wolf Transparency and Accountability Act” – would remove virtually all protections for the Mexican grey wolf, a species rescued from near extinction by a tedious captive breeding program spanning almost 40 years. Only around 100 wild Mexican grey wolves remain in the United States (primarily  in Arizona and New Mexico).

The Mexican grey wolf was rescued from extinction by a captive breeding program but is now at risk of loosing nearly all its government protection.

The Mexican grey wolf was rescued from extinction by a captive breeding program but is now at risk of losing nearly all its government protection. (Jim brandenburg/ Minden)

On May 24th, representative Ken Calvert introduced legislation to permanently prevent the greater sage grouse from being listed under the ESA.

On May 24th, representative Ken Calvert introduced legislation to permanently prevent the greater sage grouse from being listed under the ESA. (Danita Delimit)

In March 2016, the FWS announced that it is planning to remove ESA protection from Yellowstone grizzly bears, even though the population consists of only about 700 animals.

Grizzly bear nuzzling her cub in Yellowstone National Park.

Grizzly bear and her cub in Yellowstone National Park (Troy Harrison).

Attempts to weaken the ESA are especially troubling in light of how effective it is. For example, a recent study conducted by the Center for Biological Diversity found that 85% of continental U.S. birds protected under the ESA have increased or stabilized their populations since receiving protection. The recovering bird species range from Puerto Rican parrots and Californian Condors to wood storks and Kirtland’s warblers. The wood stork’s population, in particular, jumped from 29 nesting colonies in 1984, when it was listed under the ESA, to over 10,000 in 2015.

Both the California condor and the woodstork have benefited tremendously from the Endangered Species Act.

Both the California condor (right) and the woodstork (left) have benefited tremendously from the Endangered Species Act. (woodstork photo: Stephen L. Tabone)

Your Turn

To learn more about Congress’s attempts to weaken the ESA, please visit Center for Biological Diversity

Please take the following steps to help safeguard the Endangered Species Act and the animals that it protects:

  • To find out more about federal and state bills that could affect wild animals and the ways in which you can help to pass or defeat them, please visit Born Free USA
  • To find out about federal and state bills that could affect all animals, including endangered species, and the ways in which you can help to pass or defeat them, please visit Humane Society of the United States

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Animal Rights Activists Protest State-Sponsored Mass Shooting of Bears in NJ

December 5, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

Dressed in a bear costume and hauling a dummy of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Friends of Animals’ Edita Birnkrant fearlessly paraded into the state capitol building to disrupt business as usual. That’s because she, like many other animal advocates across the state, is outraged about the upcoming state-sponsored mass shooting of black bears. TheirTurn reported on location:

Some of the bears will be lured out of their habitat with food. During a press conference about the bear hunt on the steps of the statehouse, state Senator Raymond Lesniak, who introduced legislation to ban the hunt, said, “Baiting isn’t hunting; it’s target shooting.”

From left to right: NJ State Senator Raymond Lesniak, a dummy of NJ Governor Chris Christie in a bear-proof garbage can, Friends of Animals' Edita Birnkrant

From left to right: NJ State Senator Raymond Lesniak, a dummy of NJ Governor Chris Christie in a bear-proof garbage can, Friends of Animals’ Edita Birnkrant

During the massacre, which starts on Monday, December 7th, hundreds of bears, including cubs and nursing mothers, will be hunted down and killed with guns and arrows.

NJ Governor Chris Christie receives a manual pat down at the NJ State House

NJ Governor Chris Christie receives a manual pat down at the NJ State House

Governor Christie claims that the annual hunt protects the public from bear attacks, but Senator Lesniak and the advocates who gathered at the capitol building argue that only bear-proof garbage cans coupled with public education will keep the bears out of residential areas. Dispensing licenses to kill, they say, doesn’t protect the public; it merely rewards Chris Christie’s pro-hunting campaign donors.

NJ Fish & Wildlife promotes killing, not protecting, its animal residents

NJ Fish & Wildlife promotes killing, not protecting, its animal residents

Your Turn

For more information about the bear hunt and to take action on their behalf, please visit Friends of Animals and the Animal Protection League of NJ Action Center.

A Fish & Wildlife employee weighs a bear during a previous hunt (photo: AP)

A Fish & Wildlife employee weighs a bear during a previous hunt (photo: AP)


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New York Blood Center Blames Animal Welfare Groups for Plight of Abandoned Chimps

August 10, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

One day after activists staged a third protest at the home of its Chairman of the Board on August 4th, the New York Blood Center (NYBC) posted a stunning public statement (Q&A) defending its decision to cut off funding to its former lab chimps (see below).

In the Q&A, which it has since removed from its website, NYBC argues that it neither owns nor has responsibility for the chimps; that the blame for their plight lies with animal welfare organizations who refused to take them; and that their priority is helping humans, not chimpanzees.

With no natural food on the islands where they were relocated, the chimps eagerly await the delivery of food

With no natural food on the islands where they were relocated, the chimps eagerly await the delivery of food

“We have no obligation to these chimpanzees.”  In an effort to distance itself from its chimps, NYBC asserts that the government of Liberia owns them and is responsible for their care. Nowhere in its statement does NYBC acknowledge that they captured the chimps from the wild; bred them in captivity; conducted experiments on them for 30 years; and dropped them off on islands with no natural food and water, rendering them totally dependent on humans for survival.

Language about ownership in contracts between NYBC and the government of Liberia doesn’t change the fact that NYBC has a moral obligation to pay for their care. In fact, previous executives at NYBC publicly acknowledged this obligation.

new york blood center

In its Q&A, NYBC asserts that Dr. Prince was not authorized to make this statement.

“The animal welfare groups did nothing to help us.” NYBC claims that it attempted to work with animal welfare organizations to find a long term solution for the chimps, but, according to individuals involved in those discussions, NYBC merely attempted to shift the responsibility to these groups without offering to pay for the expenses, such as expanding the sanctuaries to accommodate the chimps and providing them with food and medical care for the remainder of their lives. During these discussions, NYBC was well aware of the fact that great ape sanctuaries in Africa, which are chronically short on space and financial resources, could not assume the millions of dollars in costs associated with caring for its chimps.

Chimp greet a volunteer who brings them food

Chimp greet a volunteer who brings them food

“Our obligation is to humans. Other organizations better suited to funding and supporting the chimps.” NYBC also justifies its decision to eliminate funding for the chimps on the grounds that humans are a greater priority: “Our mission is to save lives here in the United States. NYBC’s responsibility is to blood donors, hospitals and patients.”

Even if one subscribes to the point of view that humans are more worthy of life than other animals, NYBC doesn’t have to make that choice. The organization, which pays its President over $1.2 million and has $450 million in assets, has earned $500 million in royalties from their chimp research. Even if NYBC was not a wealthy organization backed by some of the biggest corporations in the United States, it would still have a moral obligation to pay for the care of their chimps.

Jane-goodall

Jane Goodall’s letter to the New York Blood Center

In a demonstration of its lack of ethics, NYBC describes the islands to which they relocated the chimps as “sanctuaries,” even though they have no caretakers, facilities or infrastructure. Given that the chimps had no survival skills and were traumatized by decades of experiments, they should have been relocated to accredited sanctuaries where they would have received much needed care as soon as they were released. Instead, they have been struggling to survive on isolated islands, at times going several days without food and water. Over the years, many of the chimps have needlessly died from starvation.

In a statement entitled “Left To Die In Liberia,” the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) paints a picture of just how difficult the animals’ lives on the islands: “One chimp bargained for food by offering his leg to the caregivers, as he would have done in the lab when being darted.”

chimp-research-liberia-cage

Captive chimp at NYBC’s research facility in Liberia

Q&A Posted on NYBC's website on August 6th

Q&A Posted on NYBC’s website on August 6th

Your Turn

Please join the Facebook page New York Blood Center: Do the Right Thing in order to participate in the online actions and keep apprised of the campaign to compel NYBC to reinstate funding for the chimps.


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