On April 26th, animal rights activists in NYC staged a 30 minute disruption inside of the MetLife building at the height of rush hour. Protesters demanded MetLife hold the New York Blood Center (NYBC) accountable for its decision to abandon 66 chimps in Liberia. As NYBC’s largest corporate donor and partner, MetLife can compel the organization to uphold certain ethical standards – or risk losing funding.
In May 2015, when the NY Times reported that NYBC cut off all funding for the chimps and their caregivers, advocates worldwide began contacting MetLife, believing that a company that prides itself on “corporate social responsibility” would intervene on behalf of NYBC’s victims. MetLife has neither responded to the communications nor made any public statements about the scandal.
In November, 2015, primatologist Bob Ingersoll, who is the subject of the documentary film Project Nim, traveled from San Francisco to NYC to hand-deliver a petition to MetLife asking the company to cut its support of NYBC until the organization reinstates funding for the chimps. While a representative from the company did collect the petition from him in the lobby, neither she nor anyone else from the company responded to him.
MetLife has considerable influence over the operations of NYBC, both as a donor as its rent-free landlord. MetLife donates space to the blood center in its global headquarters.
In March, another NYBC donor, Citigroup, did respond to the call of advocates, issuing a public statement asserting that “the current situation is not tolerable” and making an unsolicited $50,000 donation toward the care of NYBC’s chimps. Until MetLife takes similar action, activists in the New York area intend to step up their campaign, staging protests at MetLife’s office buildings and at the homes of executives who have failed to respond to the global outcry.
For a thirty year period starting in the mid-1970s, NYBC conducted experiments on over 400 hundred chimpanzees in Liberia, where they could capture, breed and experiment on them with little regulatory oversight. After the research was conducted, NYBC moved the survivors onto six islands with no natural food or water and made a public commitment to provide them with lifelong care.
In May, 2015, the NY Times reported that NYBC had “withdrawn all funding for them,” leaving the chimps to die of starvation and thirst. In order to keep the chimps alive, Liberians who had been employed by NYBC to deliver food and water, began to care for them on a volunteer basis. With virtually no resources and burdened by the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, these volunteers kept the chimpanzees alive until an HSUS-led coalition of over 30 animal conservation groups raised funds from the public to pay for the chimps’ care on an emergency basis — until NYBC reinstates funding.
Sign the Care2 petition to MetLife.
Join the Facebook page: New York Blood Center: Do the Right Thing to stay apprised of news and to participate in online actions to pressure NYBC board members to fulfill their promise to provide lifelong care to their laboratory chimps.
Use the tweet sheet to contact MetLife, NYBC and their stakeholders.