As part of an ongoing campaign to demand that MetLife hold the NY Blood Center (NYBC) accountable for abandoning its former lab chimpanzees on islands in Liberia, animal advocates protested at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in New York City.
“If MetLife prides itself on ‘corporate responsibility,’ then how can it possibly turn a blind eye to NYBC’s unconscionable decision to leave 66 chimps to starve to death?,” says protester Elena Natale. “We hope that MetLife will meet with the animal advocacy community to discuss this crisis.” MetLife is NYBC’s largest corporate donor.
In an apparent effort to curb interactions between protestors and shareholders, MetLife closed the main entrance to its building and rerouted meeting attendees to the back door.
Activists, unwilling to stay penned near the front entrance, exited the barricades errected by the NYPD and moved the protest to the back entrance.
In November, 2015, primatologist Bob Ingersoll 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 MetLife did collect the petitions from him in the lobby, neither she nor anyone else from the company responded to him.
On April 26, activists staged a 30-minute disruption in the lobby of the MetLife building during rush hour. Two weeks later, they protested at the NJ home of MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian. To date, MetLife has ignored all of the protests and the efforts to open a dialog regarding the plight of the chimps.
Former NYBC donor Citigroup, on the other hand, did respond to the pleas of animal advocates by issuing a public statement asserting that “the current situation is not tolerable” and donating $50,000 towards the care of the chimps.
In May, 2015, the NY Times reported that NYBC had “withdrawn all funding for them,” leaving the chimps to die of starvation and thirst.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 the blood center 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.
The New York Blood Center, which has earned an estimated $500 million in royalties off of the research conducted on the chimpanzees, has publicly stated that it has no “contractual obligation” to pay for the chimps’ food and water and has shifted the financial burden of caring for their captive chimp population to the animal welfare community.
Sign the Care2 petition to MetLife, NYBC’s largest corporate donor.
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.