As prominent women in NYC politics entered a political fundraiser headlined by Hillary Clinton, they were confronted by over 30 animal rights activists who were protesting one of the attendees, U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, over her plan to rent a pair of giant pandas from China and put them on display in an enclosure in NYC.
The activists, who are opposed to holding wild animals captive for entertainment, say that panda breeding facilities in China are panda mills in disguise and that renting pandas fuels the market for captive pandas; helps to perpetuate the physical abuse documented at panda mills: and does nothing to conserve pandas in their natural habitat.
“Pandas are wild animals who belong in the forests of China,” said Jessica Hollander, a NYC artist and activist who participated in the protest. “More and more New Yorkers are rejecting captivity, as evidenced by the recent passage of a NYC law banning wild animals in circuses. Ms. Maloney would be turning back the clock if she went forward with her archaic plan.”
Congresswoman Maloney avoided protesters by entering the event through a side door, but activists did interact with several luminaries who entered through the front, including U.S. Congresswomen Nydia Velazquez; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; NYC Public Advocate Letitia James and Huma Abedin, the vice chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign.
In February 2017, Congresswomen Maloney held a “Black & White Panda Ball” at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel to raise money for the project, which is estimated to cost $50 million over a period of 10 years. The gala raised approximately $500,000. Her charity, The Pandas are Coming to NYC, continues to raise money.