When Leo was kidnapped from the forest of Liberia, the confused and traumatized baby chimp had no way of knowing whether or not he would ever see members of his own species again. That uncertainty might explain why he beamed with joy as other young chimps greeted him with hugs upon his arrival at Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP), a chimp sanctuary in the West African country.
“Watching the our juvenile chimp group embrace Leo with so much affection was a feast for the eyes” said Jenny Desmond, the founder of LCRP. “Moments like this serve as an important reminder of why we moved to Liberia in 2015 and why we are moving mountains to transfer all 40 of the orphans in our care to a permanent sanctuary in the forest.”
The chimpanzee orphans at LCRP’s sanctuary are victims of the bushmeat and illegal pet trade. In every case, poachers killed their mothers in the forest and sold – or attempted to sell – them to private individuals as pets or to zoos. While many chimps are never rescued, about 20 are confiscated by LCRP staff or wildlife authorities each year and brought to the sanctuary where they receive around the clock care from surrogate parents until they can be fully integrated into a chimpanzee group.
In spite of government efforts to curb chimpanzee hunting and trafficking, poachers continue to kill adult chimpanzees for bushmeat and sell their children on the black market. Part of LCRP’s mission is to increase penalties so that poachers stay out of the forests, thus allowing Liberia’s remaining wild chimpanzee population to live safely in their natural habitat. In the meantime, LCRP will continue to adopt orphaned chimpanzees and provide them with lifelong care.
At the moment, LCRP’s 40 chimpanzees are living in substandard enclosures on government property in a heavily populated village. In 2018, Jenny and Jim Desmond, the founders of LCRP, leased a tract of land in the forest on which to build a sanctuary from the ground up. Now they are working to raise $3 million for the build out.
“For their safety and well-being, we have to move these chimps out of these enclosures and into a forest setting so that they can live away from the public and in as natural a setting as possible,” said Ms. Desmond. “In order to break ground, we have to raise an additional $500,000 dollars. If you have the means, please make a contribution.”
On Good Friday, 15 animal rights activists occupied a slaughterhouse in Brooklyn in an effort to draw public attention to the lambs who are killed for Easter dinner. They remained inside until the police arrived 20 minutes later. While they were unable to rescue any animals, they did capture footage of lambs and goats in their final moments.
“We wanted to appeal to the conscience of the management during the holiday weekend by giving them the chance to spare two lives,” said Jill Carnegie, one of the protest organizers. “Even with the theme of “new life” spanning multiple belief systems, they refused. As a result, we felt compelled to occupy their place of business.”
Animal rights activists ask slaughterhouse owner to show mercy during the Easter holiday by giving them two lambs.
During the Easter holiday weekend, animal rights activists around the world took to social media to address the inconsistency of eating animals during Easter, a holiday that celebrates life. Almost 1,000 people shared words of wisdom posted by vegan spokesperson Ed Winters, also known as Earthling Ed.
“The cultural tradition of butchering lambs for Easter is so brutally contradictory with our cultural fondness of lambs. Lambs are found in so many things related to human children – books, toys, clothes, decor, nursery rhymes and fairytales. We connect them with our own children as they are full of innocence and life.
Sheep have a deep bond with their young, and lambs are known to form very close relationships with their mothers. Sheep, like all maternal parents (human and non-human), get distressed when they can’t find their children. So the sheep whose children are used for lamb ‘production’ suffer huge amounts of grief and turmoil when their babies are taken from them year after year. We eat babies in the name of tradition, and we destroy families in the name of peace. This isn’t in our nature, as we would never take a child to a slaughterhouse to witness how a ‘leg of lamb’ arrived at the family dinner table.
Easter is a celebration of life, so why must so many suffer and die? Blood does not need to be shed in order for us to celebrate. The foundations of so many of our traditions come from the idea of unity and togetherness, so indeed today and everyday let us live by those values and pledge to not only live in unity with our own species, but all species.”
During a public health forum held at the City University of New York on April 1st, 2019, NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot stated that she would continue to allow a mass animal sacrifice that takes place in Hasidic Jewish communities before Yom Kippur. Dr. Barbot delivered the remarks in response to an audience member who asked if the Department of Health would begin to enforce the health codes violated during the sacrifice, called Kaporos, in light of the reports of E. coli infection and a measles outbreak in the same community.
“In our work addressing public health issues in a number of different communities, we take an approach that matches the intervention to the degree that people are getting sick,” said Dr. Barbot. “I don’t see us making any change in our current practice in that area.”
Advocates say that Dr. Barbot’s response, which did not acknowledge the health code violations or the reports of E. coli, affirmed their fears that the Health Department will continue to wait for a disease outbreak to occur before enforcing the seven health codes that are violated.
During Kaporos, the blood, feces and body parts of thousands of chickens contaminate the streets of the same Hasidic Jewish neighborhoods that are now experiencing a measles outbreak. The Kaporos ritual violates 7 city health codes.
In response to Dr. Barbot’s remarks and her announcement that the City was declaring a public health emergency due to the measles outbreak, numerous public health and animal welfare advocates staged an impromptu rally at City Hall to draw attention to the City’s ongoing refusal to take measures to prevent the outbreak of another potentially lethal disease in the same community – an outbreak that would likely spread outside of the Hasidic communities where the public slaughter takes place. ABC News reported on the advocates’ rally as part of its coverage of the measles outbreak. Following is an excerpt:
For the past 1.5 years, public health and animal welfare advocates have protested Dr. Barbot and other city health officials over their refusal to enforce the multiple health codes violated during Kaporos. During the ritual, an estimated 60,000 chickens are trucked into Brooklyn, held outdoors in crates for up to a week and killed in approximately 30 open air slaughterhouses erected without permits on residential streets. The blood, feces and body parts of the chickens contaminate the sidewalks and streets during the ritual and in the days that follow, exposing New Yorkers to E. coli, coliform and other pathogens and toxins, according to a renowned toxicologist who collected samples on behalf of area residents suing the DOH and NYPD over their failure to enforce the health codes.
In spite of the toxicology report outlining the public health risks associated with Kaporos, ultra-Orthodox Jewish children work in makeshift slaughterhouses erected for the annual ritual sacrifice without any protection against disease.
In his report, the toxicologist, Dr. Michael McCabe, concluded, “The first-hand observations that I made during my September 21st 2015 Kaporos inspection as well as the photographs that I took and test results confirming high bacterial contamination and unsanitary conditions confirm and strengthen my opinion that within a reasonable degree of professional certainty the Kaporos activities taking place in the subject locations constitute a dangerous condition and pose a significant public health hazard.”
Mayor de Blasio’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, has refused to address or acknowledge the toxicology report that outlines the public health risks posed by the mass slaughter of 60,000 animals on residential streets during Kaporos.
“Mayor de Blasio instructs the Department of Health to defend Kaporos and the health code violations because the Hasidic practitioners of the ritual comprise a powerful voting bloc,” said Donny Moss, an organizer of the Kaporos protests. “But the gravity of the current measles outbreak begs the question — Is the de Blasio administration going to wait for the outbreak of another disease in the Hasidic community before it enforces the City’s own health codes?”
During the past two years, several non-Orthodox people who were exposed to the chickens contracted E. coli. Two of them spoke out during a press conference at City Hall.
Advocates speculate that many Kaporos practitioners also become sick each year due to their exposure to sick and dying chickens, but do not report it.
“Apart from the extraordinary risk at which the Mayor and Health Commissioner are placing New York’s residents, the City faces enormous liability should someone become sick or even die as a result of Kaporos,” said Bonnie Klapper, an attorney advising the advocates. “The financial cost, which would be borne by all New Yorkers in the advent of a money judgement, should certainly compel the City to enforce its own health laws.”
Animal rights activists with the group “Protest Canada Goose NYC” staged their first demonstration at the home Zach Blank, the Chief Operating Officer of his family’s company Paragon Sports. Paragon, which is located in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, sells several brands of clothing that contain fur, including Canada Goose. Activists have demonstrated at Paragon for the past several years, but, after their protests and letters were ignored, they decided to take their message to Blank’s home in Brooklyn.
The protest was held just days after both New York City and New York State lawmakers introduced bills to ban the sale of fur.
Animal rights activists protest the sale of Canada Goose fur coats at Paragon Sports in New York City.
On March 19th, NY State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal introduced a bill to ban the manufacture and sale of fur at the state level. “Increasingly, consumers are looking to make ethical and sustainable purchases — fur is neither of those,” Rosenthal said. “The fur trade has at its core a violence toward animals that is antithetical with our modern views on animals as human companions and sentient beings.”
On March 19, 2019, NY State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal introduced a statewide bill to ban the production and sale of fur products.
Just one week later, Council Speaker Corey Johnson, the most powerful lawmaker in New York City, introduced the bill to ban the sale of fur at the city level. “I believe it is cruel to kill an animal just for the purpose of people buying and wearing a fur coat. There is really no need for this,” said Johnson.”In a progressive and modern city like New York, banning the sale of fur clothing and accessories is long overdue.”
Both anti-fur activists and fur industry supporters descended on City Hall to show their support for or opposition to the bill, an indication of the battle of that lies ahead as the legislation works its way through public hearings and onto the City Council floor for a vote. If the bill passes, New York City will join San Francisco and Los Angeles in outlawing the sale of fur.
On March 28th, 2019, NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson introduced a bill to ban the sale of fur.