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Rescued Chimps Get a Second Chance

July 15, 2017 by 2 comments


The News

By the time orphaned chimps arrive at Liberia Chimp Rescue & Protection’s (LCRP) new sanctuary, they have experienced more tragedy than most humans will experience in a lifetime. That’s because they watched poachers kill their mothers for bushmeat before kidnapping them and hauling them out of their forest home in an attempt to sell them as exotic pets. 

“Most of the orphans are inconsolable when they arrive,” Jenny Desmond, who, along with her husband Jim, created LCRP. “You can see the heartbreak in their eyes.”

When orphaned chimps arrive at Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection, caregivers work to help them recover from the trauma of losing their families; being kidnapped from the forest and being held captive by poachers. (photo: Jenny Desmond)

When government authorities deliver baby chimps to LCRP after confiscating them from poachers, Jenny and Jim swing into action right away, assigning a human caregiver to be the baby’s surrogate mother. With the support and guidance from the Desmonds, who have spent their careers working at sanctuaries, the caregivers spend the next days, weeks and months helping the chimps recover by bottle feeding them, playing with them, introducing them to other orphans, sleeping next to them and ultimately integrating them into a chimp group. In time, most of the chimps recover from their trauma and find happiness at the sanctuary.

“These babies should be in the forest, but, because poachers killed their mothers and families, they have to be raised by humans,” said Jenny Desmond. “We are their surrogate mothers – day and night. At about age five, wild chimpanzees start sleeping separately from their mothers, so we use this, along with their needs and personalities, to determine when they’re ready to fully integrate into our older nursery group and spend their days and nights with other chimps.”

Jenny Desmond, co-founder of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection, plays with an orphaned chimp

The Desmonds hope that they can one day return some of these chimps to their natural habitat in the Liberian forests, which have an estimated 7,000 wild chimps remaining. Re-introduction, however, is a complicated, long-term process. In the meantime, they are creating as natural a life as possible for the chimps in a sanctuary setting. 

Jim Desmond, co-founder of LCRP and caregiver Annie, act as surrogate parents for the orphaned chimps.

The Desmonds arrived in Liberia in 2015 to take care of another population of chimps — the 66 who were abandoned on deserted islands by the New York Blood Center. Within weeks of their arrival, however, the FDA (Forestry Development Authority) knocked on their front door and dropped off two infants. In just over a year, that number has grown to 16.  The Desmonds have outgrown their space and plan to move to a more remote location in the forest where the babies can, along with their human caregivers and other chimps, can live in a semi-wild environment with minimal human contact.

As babies become adolescents, they are integrated into chimp groups and spend less time interacting with humans.

“Chimps are wild animals, not pets,” said Desmond. “Ideally, the only people who should be interacting with them are their surrogate mothers who provide them with the parenting and TLC that they need to survive during their first several years of life.” 

The Desmonds are working with government authorities and other NGOs to protect chimpanzees, a critically endangered species, in their forest home. Combatting Liberia’s illegal bushmeat and exotic pet trades means far fewer baby chimps will be orphaned and need sanctuary. They hope that ecotourism – trekking to see habituated chimps in the forest – can eventually be a source of income for those who are now poaching chimps and selling their meat. “Chimps are a valuable renewable resource for Liberians, as mountain gorillas are for Rwandans, but that means protecting them instead of killing them,” said Desmond. 

Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP)

Between protecting wild chimps in the forest and raising orphaned chimps at the sanctuary, the Desmonds have a lot of work to do – in a difficult setting. Thankfully, they have a team of dedicated caregivers at LCRP who genuinely love the chimps and their jobs.

Your Turn

Please follow Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection on Facebook by giving their page a “like.”

Please make a contribution to support the life saving work of LCRP.

Dedicated caregivers at LCRP help orphaned chimps recover from the emotional trauma of losing their families.


Disruption of Hotdog Eating Contest Garners Widespread Coverage in Mainstream Media

July 7, 2017 by 3 comments


The News

Animal rights activists with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) waited in line for five hours to get a prime spot at the annual hotdog eating contest at Nathan’s in Brooklyn, and their patience – and willingness to be manhandled – paid off.

After the activists disrupted the event and got arrested (see video below), several TV and print media outlets in NYC ran stories, and dozens of newspapers around the country published an Associated Press story. Notably, the New York Post, a paper frequently hostile to animal rights activism, reported on why the activists protested:

Several international newspapers also covered the disruption.  In Argentina, Flores Buenos Aires included the DxE statement from the NY Post article.

Animal rights activists have protested the infamous hotdog eating competition for the past several years, and have, each year, garnered at least some favorable media coverage. In 2016, the NY Daily News, another newspaper notoriously hostile to animal rights activists, published a story that included strong animal rights messages.

Ironically, the annual hotdog eating contest is held on Independence Day, in spite of the fact that the individuals who were consumed by the contestants spent their entire lives being held captive before being slaughtered.

Cattle are held captive in sheds and feedlots before being slaughtered

Matt Cataldo, one of five activists who was arrested and later released with no charges, told TheirTurn, “These people who stuff dead animals down their throats, vomit into their own hands and then shove it back in are regarded as athletes, but they are lazy cowards — exploiting innocent animals for money and fame. There is no excuse for animal abuse, and we will never stop fighting for their freedom.”

Police falsely arrest Matt Cataldo (left). Rocky Schwartz (right) and three other animal rights activists for legally protesting at Nathan’s hot dog eating contest on July 4th.

When she was released from jail, Rocky Schwartz, who was handled aggressively by police, encouraged her followers on social media to take a stand for animals. “Are you supporting the system that says my friends and I should be handcuffed for speaking out against violence–the system that glorifies the exploitation and killing of animals–or are you fighting against it? Because that is the choice each of us has to make.”


As Carriage Horses Fight NYC Heat, Animal Rights Activists Fight City Hall

July 5, 2017 by 1 comment


The News

As carriage horses pounded the pavement in NYC’s sweltering heat, over 50 animal rights activists staged a protest at the Department of Health (DOH) to demand that the city enforce what few laws exist to protect the beasts of burden.

NYCLASS and PETA targeted the DOH, which is responsible for protecting the horses on the streets and in the buildings where they are kept at night, because the city agency has refused to take action following several incidents in which carriage horses collided with motor vehicles; ran untethered through the streets midtown Manhattan; or were photographed living in squalid conditions.

Animal rights activists with NYCLASS and PETA demand that the NYC Department of Health enforce laws to protect carriage horses

While running for Mayor of NYC in 2013, Bill de Blasio publicly pledged on at least a dozen occasions to “end carriage rides” in midtown Manhattan. “Watch me do it!” he said. Advocates speculate that he has walked away from his promise because betraying the animal rights community, which was instrumental in getting him elected, is more politically expedient than angering the media and unions, which staunchly support the horse-drawn carriage trade.

Your Turn

Join the fight to ban inhumane and unsafe horse-drawn carriages from NYC.

To learn more about NYC’s epic horse-drawn carriage controversy, watch the documentary film BLINDERS: The Truth Behind The Tradition.


Animal Rights Activists Rejoice as NYC Lawmakers Vote to Ban Wild Animals in Circuses (VIDEO)

June 28, 2017 by 1 comment


The News

An 11 year campaign came to a screeching halt on June 21st when NYC lawmakers voted to ban the use of exotic animals in circuses. The bill, which has been championed by Council Member Rosie Mendez since 2006, passed with 43 votes. Only 6 Council Members voted against it.

NYC’s Public Advocate, who presided over the Council meeting when the vote took place, broke protocol by allowing animal rights activists in the Council chambers to break into applause when the vote count was announced, “Let it rip,” said Letitia James, who herself was a supporter of the ban.

Animal rights activists in NYC applaud the advocates and elected officials who led the fight to ban wild animals in circuses (from L to R: Activist John Phillips, Council Member Corey Johnson, Council Member Rosie Mendez, ADI’s Christina Scaringe, HSUS’ Joyce Friedman)

According to HSUS’ Wildlife Protection Specialist Joyce Friedman, NYC joins “over 125  municipalities and four states that have banned or restricted the use of animals in circuses.” Christina Scaringe, General Counsel of Animal Defenders International (ADI), added that 37 countries around the world have implemented a ban on exotic animals in circuses, with some of those countries also banning the use of domesticated animals.

In traveling circuses, wild animals are held captive for life in small cages and are beaten into submission with weapons

After the Council meeting, several elected officials bill joined activists on the steps of City Hall for an impromptu rally to celebrate the historic vote. NYC Council Member Corey Johnson, a co-sponsor of the bill, remarked on the historic significance of its passage: “We’re going to look back on this day and all of the hard work that has gone into it and see it as a seminal moment – – when the largest municipality in the country said, ‘Enough!  This law is a step for a more just and humane New York City and society.”


Anti-Fur Activists Disrupt Fashion Designer Michael Kors at NYC’s Met Museum

June 22, 2017 by 12 comments


The News

Animal rights activists have pleaded with fashion designer Michael Kors to stop using – and promoting – fur. But, on June 21st, they stopped asking nicely. As Kors delivered remarks to a packed theater in NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, over 20 animal rights activists occupied the stage and the balcony while chanting and playing the sounds of animals being killed for fur.  After several minutes, event organizers escorted Kors out of the theater, shutting down the event for approximately ten minutes.

Over 20 activists disrupted Michael Kors during his talk at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (photo on right: AFP Photo)

“If Michael Kors wants to profit off of animals who are skinned alive, anally electrocuted, gassed or captured in painful steel leg hold traps, then he is going to have to face a new reality – never knowing for certain when we will disrupt his public appearances or retail stores,” said Rob Banks, an organizer of the protest.

In spite of protests, Michael Kors continues to design with real animal fur.

During Fashion Week (Feb, 2017), PETA staged a provocative protest at Michael Kors’ flagship store in Manhattan. During the protest, an animal rights activist wearing a giant Michael Kors mask and long black grim reaper coat dragged “bloody” fur coats and “exotic skins” to draw public attention to Kors’ continued use of animal skins.

PETA stages anti-fur protest at Michael Kors’ flagship store in NYC

The activists who participated in the disruption say they plan to continue targeting Michael Kors until he stops designing with real fur.