After ignoring inquiries from animal advocacy groups for weeks, the New York Blood Center (NYBC) admitted to the NY Times that it abandoned 66 former lab chimps in Liberia, leaving them to starve to death after using them in experiments for three decades: “We never had any obligation for care for the chimps, contractual or otherwise.” The NYBC’s stunning admission has sent shockwaves through great ape conservation and animal protection organizations worldwide.
In a public letter to the NYBC, Jane Goodall, the legendary chimpanzee researcher said it’s “completely shocking and unacceptable that NYBC would abandon these chimpanzees,” adding that it has a “moral obligation to continue to care for them for the remainder of their lives.”
Betsy Brotman, the head of NYBC’s chimpanzee research program from 1974 – 2006, suggested that her former employer’s effort to shift responsibility to the Liberian government is unethical and deceptive: “We brought those chimps to the Institute and encouraged them to breed. This had nothing to do with the Liberian government.”
Ms. Brotman, who says that NYBC has an obligation to pay for the care of the chimps, is outraged by the organization’s callousness: “This is awful. It’s unspeakably awful.” Primatologist Brian Hare agrees. In an interview with the NY times, Dr Hare, who has studied wild and captive great apes around the world, said he has “never seen anything even remotely as disgusting as this.”
Florida Attorney Wally Baldwin, a Board Member of Center for Great Apes, said “When the news broke that the NYBC was abandoning the chimps, I thought they’d say ‘there’s been a misunderstanding’ and reinstate the funding. I was stunned to discover that the news was true.”
The NYBC has attributed its decision to cut funding for the chimps to difficult economic times for blood banks. Michael Budkie, the Director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) says that’s a poor excuse: “The NYBC has $400 million in assets; earns $320 million in annual income; and pays its President, Christopher Hillyer, over $1.2 million a year. Do they really expect us to believe that they don’t have the money to provide food and water for these animals?”
Please join the Facebook page New York Blood Center: Do the Right Thing and participate in the calls to action.
Call Christopher Hillyer, the President & CEO of the NY Blood Center, and demand that his organization fulfills its obligation and promise to provide lifelong care to the chimpanzees used in their medical experiments: (212) 570-3000.