Jenny and Jim Desmond arrived in Liberia in 2015 with a big job to do – overseeing the care of the 66 chimpanzees abandoned on six islands by the New York Blood Center. Little did they know that, within weeks of their arrival, the government would be adding to their workload by bringing them orphaned baby chimpanzees who needed sanctuary.
Liberia has an estimated 7,000 wild chimpanzees remaining in its forests. The fact that these great apes are endangered doesn’t stop poachers from illegally hunting them for their meat. The baby chimps, orphaned when their mothers are killed for their meat, are then sold as exotic pets.
Chimps rescued from the illegal exotic pet trade in Liberia are brought to Jenny and Jim Desmond with Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP)
Before the Desmonds arrived in Liberia, the government turned a blind eye to the illegal chimp trade because authorities had no place to bring chimps who they could have confiscated from their captors or new “owners.” Because the Desmonds have experience rescuing and rehabilitating great apes, authorities began to bring them babies – some just weeks old.
Baby chimps rescued by LCRP are raised by surrogate mothers until they are old enough to be integrated with a group of juveniles who no longer need around-the-clock attention.
The Desmond’s property in Liberia, which is owned by the government and is adjacent to a busy laboratory, is not ideal for raising orphaned chimps. Jenny and Jim are therefore now tasked with looking for land in a nearby forest to build a proper sanctuary with all of the facilities needed to care for the chimps, including an infirmary, overnight housing for the babies, a kitchen, offices and housing for caregivers and volunteers. The Desmonds have already created an entity, Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP). Now, they need to raise money in order to build the sanctuary.
A rescued chimp takes the wheel from Jim Desmond on the way home from “chimp school” at LCRP’s temporary location
Jenny Desmond is quick to point out that providing sanctuary for rescued chimps is only part of their mission. One of their biggest priorities is using the sanctuary as a platform to educate the public about the importance of conserving chimpanzees in their natural habitat. “We’ll know that our efforts are having an impact when we stop receiving chimps,” said Desmond. “Our ultimate goal is to not need to exist at all.”
Please follow Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCR) on Facebook and Twitter.
On June 4th, animal rights activists in 22 cities around the world took to the streets to participate in the 7th annual National Animal Rights Day (NARD).
Animal rights activists in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia participated in 2017 National Animal Rights Day
According to the organizer, the non-profit organization Our Planet. Theirs Too., NARD “gives a voice to all animals” and will continue to do so “until all animals are free from enslavement and their rights are established and protected by law.”
TheirTurn documented the ceremony in New York City, which attracted hundreds of participants and onlookers.
NARD events consist of a memorial ceremony for the billions of animals killed each year by humans; the reading and signing of a Declaration of Animal Rights; and a rally with speakers covering topics from animal rights advocacy to making the switch to a cruelty-free lifestyle.
Participants in NARD’s NYC used deceased animals during the memorial service
Just days after an untethered carriage horse ran wildly through the streets of midtown Manhattan and a whistleblower released a photo to the media of another horse living in squalor, animal rights activists held a press conference at one of the stables demanding an investigation from city officials and justice for the horses.
In reaction to the photo (below), which was taken surreptitiously by a city employee, NYCLASS Campaigns Director Jill Carnegie told reporters, “If horses are living in their own excrement, then the Department of Health, which is supposed to regulate this industry, is asleep at the wheel.” Edita Birnkrant, NYCLASS’ Executive Director, added, “The stall in this photograph is so small that the horse doesn’t have enough space to spread out or turn around. What’s worse is that these horses, who are herd animals, can’t graze, roam freely or interact with other horses because NYC has no pasture.”
A city employee employee took this photo of a horse living in squalor at the West Side Livery, a carriage horse stable in Manhattan
Since 2007, animal rights activists in NYC have been campaigning to ban horse-drawn carriages from NYC, arguing that nervous prey animals who have a tendency to spook should not be forced to pull carriages in the congested streets of midtown Manhattan.
Animal rights activists argue that animals who spook and bolt should not be working in city streets.
This 2006 accident in which a spooked horse named Spotty died after bolting and crashing sparked the movement to ban horse-drawn carriages from Manhattan (photo: Catherine Nance)
In 2013, NYC Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio ran for office on a campaign promise to ban horse-drawn carriages if elected. To the dismay of the activists who helped him get elected, his “Watch me do it!” pledge has since been replaced with, “Take it up with the City Council.”
Please join NYCLASS in it effort to compel the Mayor and City Council to take horse-drawn carriages off the streets of NYC.
After being targeted by animal rights activists for two years over its decision to abandon 66 chimpanzees on islands in Liberia, the New York Blood Center (NYBC) caved in to pressure, making a $6 million contribution toward their lifelong care. The decision represents a major victory not only for the chimps but also for animal protection advocates in NYC and around the world who participated in online actions, staged protests and signed Care2 petitions. Here’s a short video from what turned out to be the final protest:
“When I realized that NYBC was prepared to let their chimps die of starvation and thirst on deserted islands after holding them captive in cages for 30 years and conducting hundreds of painful experiments on them, I decided to rally caring people around the world to demand accountability and take action,” said Wally Baldwin, who serves of the Board of the Center for Great Apes and runs the Facebook page, NYBC: Do The Right Thing. “I am gratified that our efforts paid off.”
Chimps abandoned by the New York Blood Center on islands in Liberia await their daily delivery of food and water.
When the New York Times reported in May, 2015, that NYBC cut off all funding for the 66 remaining survivors of its research experiments and for the Liberians who took care of them, grass roots activists in NYC launched a protest campaign that targeted not only NYBC but also its top three corporate partners, IBM, MetLife, and Citigroup. After meeting with the activists and/or being subjected to protests, all three companies issued public statements severing ties with NYBC, and Citigroup made an unsolicited contribution of $50,000 toward the care of the chimps.
“Our ability to compel multinational corporations to take the bold and unusual step of speaking out publicly against an organization with which they had a decades-long relationship demonstrates that grass roots advocacy can effect meaningful change,” said Donny Moss, one of the campaign organizers.
Public statements about the abandoned chimps posted by IBM, Citigroup and MetLife
Other significant milestones in the campaign were the resignations of two of the four NYBC board members targeted by the activists, Owen Garrick, who is based in Oakland, California, and Laurie Glimcher, who also quit her job as Dean of Cornell Medicine and moved to Boston after months of being targeted with protests.
From left to right: Michael Hodin, Laurie Glimcher and Chairman Howard Milstein were three of the four NYBC board members targeted by activists in NYC; Ponso is the sole survivor of a colony of 20 chimps abandoned by the NY Blood Center in the Ivory Coast. Advocates are working with authorities to move him across the border into Liberia so he is not alone and can receive optimal care.
The $6 million contributed by NYBC is expected to cover half of the cost of the lifelong care of the chimps. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which stepped in to take care of the chimps when NYBC abandoned them, will pay for the other half using contributions to its GoFundMe Campaign, which has raised $363,000 since 2015. For more details about the agreement between HSUS and NYBC, please see this press release issued by HSUS.
In August, 2015, HSUS hired Jenny and Jim Desmond, an American couple with experience in great ape rescue, to oversee the care of the chimps. With funds donated to HSUS, the Desmonds were able to not only hire back almost all of the Liberians who lost their jobs when NYBC cut the funding but also make dramatic improvements to the care of the chimps, including daily feedings (instead of every other day); an improved diet that takes their nutritional needs into account; and birth control.
Activists stage protest inside the lobby of the New York Blood Center
In addition to taking care of the chimps, HSUS has worked to raise awareness of their plight by staging a massive protest at NYBC and making public statements in conjunction with Dr. Jane Goodall, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, primatologist Dr. Brian Hare, and actresses Kate and Rooney Mara who traveled to Liberia to visit the islands.
Thank you to all of the activists around the world who have spoken out on behalf of the abandoned chimps. Together, we did this!
Activists from as far as California and Nevada traveled to New York to say “Good Riddance” to “The Cruelest Show of Earth” during Ringling’s last-ever performance.
Organized by PETA, LION and CompassionWorks International, the final protest, which took place at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, was not only a celebration but also an opportunity to encourage Ringling fans to abstain from patronizing other traveling circuses that beat wild animals into submission.
Animal rights activists celebrate the last-ever performance of Ringling Bros.
PETA began protesting Ringling when the organization was formed in the early 1980s. Since then, the animal rights group has staged protests at thousands of performances around the country, at times following the circus from city to city in a “Ringling Beats Elephants” van.
PETA followed Ringling around the country in a van in an effort to educate patrons
As undercover videos of circus trainers terrorizing animals emerged, many local animal rights groups around the country began to protest the circus and lobby their lawmakers in support of restrictions on the use of animals in performances.
In recent years, several municipalities in the U.S. banned the use of bull hooks, the weapons used by “trainers” to beat elephants into submission. Without bull hooks, Ringling could not use elephants in their shows. These bans, coupled with increasing public discomfort about the use of elephants, triggered Ringling to remove them from the show starting in 2016. This victory, celebrated by activists worldwide, was overshadowed by an even bigger victory – Ringling’s announcement in 2017 that it was shutting down the circus altogether. A representative from the Circus Fans Association of America told TheirTurn that the Ringling decided to end its 146 year run because of a substantial drop in revenues following the removal of elephants. Animal rights groups say that ticket sales declined because of the public’s increasing discomfort with the use of any animals in circuses.
Elephant “trainer” with Ringling carries bull hooks to scare animals into submission
The 100+ activists at Ringling’s final performance were greeted with hostility by some patrons, as expected. Parents were the angriest, as they don’t want their children’s circus experience to be tainted by the presence of activists wielding “Ringling Beats Animals” posters. While some patrons gave protesters the middle finger or shouted “Snowflake” or “Go Trump” while driving past the protesters, most just laughed nervously.