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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.


Filed under: WIldlife
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New York Blood Center Caves in to Global Pressure, Giving $6 Million for Care Of Chimps

May 30, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

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, IBMMetLife, 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.

Your Turn

Thank you to all of the activists around the world who have spoken out on behalf of the abandoned chimps. Together, we did this!


Filed under: Experimentation
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IBM Issues Public Statement Severing Ties With New York Blood Center Over Chimp Abandonment

May 16, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

In a statement posted on its website, IBM announced that it has severed all ties with the NY Blood Center on account of the organization’s decision to abandon 66 chimpanzees with no food or water on islands in Liberia. IBM joins NYBC’s other long term corporate partners, MetLife and Citigroup, in demanding accountability from the organization.

IBM severs ties with NY Blood Center over chimp abandonment

The announcement, which states that IBM has suspended its blood drives, marks the end of a 54 year relationship between IBM and NYBC.

IBM has terminated its 54 year partnership with IBM on account of the abandoned chimps

IBM donated space to the New York Blood Center for blood drives.

IBM’s decision to sever ties with the NY Blood Center marks the end of a 54 relationship.

The news comes after a protest at IBM and months of discussions with animal welfare advocates who have been working to convince NYBC’s corporate parters to demand accountability from the organization.

The Care2 petition asking IBM to demand accountability from NYBC was signed by over 163,000 people.

The NY Blood Center abandoned 66 chimps on islands with no natural food or water and cut all funding for their care. Here, the chimps await the daily delivery of food and water. (Photo: Jenny Desmond for HSUS)

After NYBC abandoned the chimps, the animals went a week with no food or water.

After conducting research experiments on approximately 500 chimpanzees for 30 years and promising to provide the survivors with lifelong care, NYBC decided to abandon the 66 surviving chimps with no food or water on islands in Liberia, leaving them to die of starvation and thirst. Using money donated by the public, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has stepped in on an emergency basis to cover the monthly costs associated with feeding the chimps.

Among the many organizations that have spoken out against the New York Blood Center are Citigroup, MetLife and the Jane Goodall Institute

Dr. Jane Goodall, one of many leaders in the animal welfare community who have spoken out against NYBC’s decision to starve their chimps, wrote the following in a letter to the organization’s CEO, Christopher Hillyer, “I find it completely shocking and unacceptable that NYBC would abandon these chimpanzees and discontinue support for even their basic needs. Your company was responsible for acquiring these chimpanzees and thus has a moral obligation to continue to care for them for the remainder of their lives.”

The NY Blood Center made a promise to provide their chimpanzees with lifelong care.

In February, TheirTurn’s Donny Moss traveled to Liberia to visit and document the abandoned chimps; the Liberians who stepped in on a voluntary basis to save their lives; and Jenny and Jim Desmond, the American couple contracted by HSUS to oversee the care of the chimps.

Your Turn

Please thank IBM for taking a principled stand against the New York Blood Center by retweeting this tweet.

Please join the Facebook page, New York Blood Center: Do the Right Thing, to stay apprised of the campaign to hold NYBC accountable and to participate in online actions on behalf of the abandoned chimps.

Chimps abandoned by the New York Blood Center on islands in Liberia await their daily delivery of food and water.


Filed under: Experimentation
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Saved From the Brink of Starvation (VIDEO)

May 8, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

Two years after the New York Blood Center (NYBC) abandoned 66 chimps on islands in Liberia with no food or water, TheirTurn traveled to the West African nation to meet the American and Liberian heroes who stepped in to save them from the brink of death.

After conducting research experiments on over 400 chimpanzees for 30 years and promising to provide the survivors with lifelong care, NYBC decided to abandon the 66 surviving chimps, leaving them to die of starvation and thirst. In addition to abandoning the chimps, NYBC abandoned all of the Liberians tasked with caring for the chimps, who were totally dependent on humans for survival. Many of the Liberians, who were impoverished and suffering from the effects of the Ebola epidemic, continued to work on a volunteer basis until the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) stepped in and reinstated their salaries using funds donated by thousands of individuals and animal welfare organizations from around the world.

The New York Blood Center abandoned 66 chimpanzees on islands in Liberia with no food or water (photo: Jenny Desmond for HSUS)

Dr. Jane Goodall, one of many leaders in the animal welfare community who have spoken out against NYBC’s decision to starve their chimps, wrote the following in a letter to the organization’s CEO, Christopher Hillyer, “I find it completely shocking and unacceptable that NYBC would abandon these chimpanzees and discontinue support for even their basic needs. Your company was responsible for acquiring these chimpanzees, some we understand even from the wild, and thus has a moral obligation to continue to care for them for the remainder of their lives.”

Jenny Desmond (pictured on left) and her husband Jim were hired by HSUS to oversee the care of the chimps abandoned by the New York Blood Center

Your Turn

Please join the Facebook page, New York Blood Center: Do the Right Thing, to stay apprised of the campaign to hold NYBC accountable and to participate in online actions on behalf of the abandoned chimps.


Filed under: Experimentation
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Activists Confront NY Blood Center’s Michael Hodin Over Abandoned Chimps

April 17, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

As New York Blood Center (NYBC) board member Michael Hodin walked toward his Manhattan home, activists protesting his decision to abandon 66 chimps with no food or water confronted him face-to-face for the first time. During previous protests outside of his luxury condo, Hodin has always watched from his windows.

Hodin, who is the CEO of the for-profit Global Coalition on Aging, stands by the Blood Center’s decision to abandon the chimps. “Hodin advocates for elderly humans, yet he signed off on a plan to leave elderly chimps to starve to death,” said Donny Moss of TheirTurn. “Elder abuse is elder abuse, regardless of the species. How sad that Mr. Hodin can’t connect the dots.”

Photo on the right by Jenny Desmond for HSUS

During the past year, the abandoned chimp protests at Hodin’s apartment have become more heated, as neighbors have grown weary of the presence of activists. In October, 2016, the New York Post ran a story about the protests (War Between Nonprofits Rages over Care of Research Chimpsin which a spokesperson for NYBC, Rob Purvis, made false claims about the activists:  “There have been attempts to enter trustees’ residences, and photos of trustees’ children and grandchildren have been posted online.”  

Christopher Hillyer, the CEO of this charity, had a compensation package that exceeded $1.5M as of 2014.

After conducting research experiments on almost 500 chimpanzees for 30 years and promising to provide the survivors with lifelong care, NYBC decided to abandon the 66 surviving chimps with no food or water on islands in Liberia, leaving them to die of starvation and thirst. Using money donated by members of the public, Citigroup and The Richardson Center for Global Engagement, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has stepped in on an emergency basis to cover the monthly costs associated with feeding the chimps.

Among the many organizations that have spoken out against the New York Blood Center are Citigroup, MetLife and the Jane Goodall Institute

Dr. Jane Goodall, one of many leaders in the animal welfare community who have spoken out against NYBC’s decision to starve their chimps, wrote the following in a letter to the organization’s CEO, Christopher Hillyer, “I find it completely shocking and unacceptable that NYBC would abandon these chimpanzees and discontinue support for even their basic needs. Your company was responsible for acquiring these chimpanzees, some we understand even from the wild, and thus has a moral obligation to continue to care for them for the remainder of their lives.”

NYBC made a commitment to provide the survivors of its experiments with lifelong care, but the organization changed its mind, leaving the chimps to starve to death on islands with no natural food or water.

Your Turn

Please join the Facebook page, New York Blood Center: To the Right Thing, to stay apprised of the campaign to hold NYBC accountable and to participate in online actions on behalf of the abandoned chimps.


Filed under: Experimentation
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