Advocates fighting on behalf of the chimpanzees abandoned by the New York Blood Center (NYBC) confronted employees during a recent protest staged at the organization’s corporate headquarters. In an effort to ignore the advocates and avoid being recorded, the employees exiting the building looked down the sidewalk and covered their faces. None expressed remorse about the crime committed by their organization.
After conducting research experiments on almost 500 chimpanzees for 30 years and promising to provide the survivors with lifelong care, NYBC abandoned 66 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.
The NY Blood Center, which has earned hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties off of the research conducted on the chimps, has been condemned by its own corporate donors and in the media. In a New York Times article about the scandal, Dr. Brian Hare, an anthropologist and primatologist at Duke University, said, “I have studied great apes for 20 years in all contexts across the globe — labs, zoos, sanctuaries, the wild” and others. “Never, ever have I seen anything even remotely as disgusting as this.”
The approximate cost of feeding the chimps and paying their Liberian caregivers is $25,000/month, a small sum for an organization that earns over $300 million/year selling blood donated by the public. Advocates speculate NYBC is refusing to reinstate funding for the chimps not because of the cost but because the Chairman of the Board, Howard Milstein, does not want to cave in to pressure. Following is an excerpt from Washington Post profile about Milstein:
“He’s not the kind of guy who backs down,” said Congressional Institute senior fellow Helen Kanovsky, a longtime friend who introduced Milstein to his future wife. In the rare cases when Milstein doesn’t get his way, he gets mad — and then he tries to get even, often through litigation….“He’s arrogant and difficult,” a former business associate said. “If you work with him, you have to understand: there’s only one way and it’s Howard’s way.”
Advocates say the campaign targeting the NY Blood Center and its major donors will continue until the organization fulfills its promise to provide lifelong care to the survivors of its experiments.