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Racing Against Time to Build a Sanctuary for 19 Chimpanzees

January 10, 2018 by 1 comment

The News

When Jenny and Jim Desmond moved to Liberia in 2015 to oversee the care of 66 chimpanzees who had been abandoned by the New York Blood Center, forestry authorities brought them 19 young chimpanzees in need of parents and a home. Unlike the blood center chimps, who were fully grown and living somewhat independently, the majority of these chimps were newly orphaned by poachers who killed their mothers for bushmeat. Like human babies, these chimpanzees need around-the-clock care.

In order to provide adequate care for the orphans, the Desmonds hired a team of caregivers from the local village to serve as their surrogate mothers. But chimpanzee babies grow up quickly, and, by two or three years old, they have to be transitioned into a group of other chimps. In addition, they need far more space — space that they don’t have in the small home they inhabit in a densely populated village two hours outside of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city.

LCRP rescued these captive chimps whose families were killed for bushmeat.

Now, the Desmonds are tasked with the responsibility of moving all 19 chimps, including two adults, and their human caregivers into a forested area where they will build a sanctuary from the ground up. The sanctuary will have enclosed areas in the forest so that the chimps can live in a semi-wild environment by day; night time housing for the younger chimps; a clinic; a commissary for food preparation; isolation areas for new arrivals to prevent the spread of illnesses; housing for caregivers and volunteers; public areas for education and conservation programs; and administrative offices.

Enrichment activities at Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (photo: Jenny Desmond)

They’ve already created an entity, Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP), and leased a large tract of forested land on the Farmington River, just a few miles away from the islands where the blood center chimps are living. Now they need to raise funds to build.

LCRP’s Jim Desmond, one of two veterinarians in Liberia, performs minor surgery in a makeshift operating room (photo: Jenny Desmond)

The sanctuary has a second and equally important mission – to protect wild chimpanzees in their natural habitat.  If government authorities have a place to bring chimpanzees who they confiscate from poachers, then poachers will have less of an incentive to capture baby chimps in order to sell them as pets.  In the absence of a sanctuary, the authorities turn a blind eye to the trade in baby chimps because they have no place to bring them. Sanctuaries therefore play a critical role in the conservation of the species.

Your Turn

Please support the life-saving rescue and conservation work being conducted by Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection.

Animal Rights Activists and Billionaire John Catsimatidis Clash Over His Plan to Import Pandas

December 27, 2017 by 1 comment

The News

John Catsimatidis, one of the two billionaires helping U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney raise $50 million to rent a pair of pandas from China and put them on display in NYC, defended his plan during a dramatic confrontation with animal rights activists:

During the confrontation, Mr. Catsimatidis defended the importation of pandas on the grounds that New Yorkers want them: “We’ve taken polls. Ninety percent of New Yorkers say, ‘We love pandas, and we want them in New York.'”

The day after the clash, Mr. Catsimatidis invited protest organizer Donny Moss onto his radio show to debate the issue:

“I think that Mr. Catsimatidis genuinely cares about animals,” said protest organizer Donny Moss. “If he took the time to learn why holding wild animals captive for our entertainment is outdated and inhumane, then he might change his mind about renting pandas from China, and he might understand why the animal advocacy community in NYC must continue protesting his plan.”

Animal rights activists in NYC are protesting a plan to rent pandas from China and put them on display in NYC.

In February 2017,  Mr. Catsimatidis, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and billionaire Maurice (Hank) Greenberg held a fundraiser called the “Black & White Panda Ball” at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel to raise money for the project, which is estimated to cost $50 million.  The gala raised approximately $500,000. Their charity, The Pandas are Coming to NYC, continues to raise money.

Your Turn

Please sign the Care2 petition asking U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to call off her plan to import pandas into NYC for display.

Follow No Panda Prison NYC on Facebook.

Vegan Bibimbap!

December 18, 2017 by Leave a Comment

The News

Susan Song, a New York-based animal rights activist campaigning to end South Korea’s dog meat trade, took a few hours off to demonstrate how to prepare bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish. Of course, Ms. Song, who doesn’t consume animal products, veganizes her bibimbap, replacing the meat with both soy curls and “ground beef” made from Beyond Meat patties.

Ms. Song, who emigrated from South Korea to the United States when she was 13 years old, cooks all types of food more often than Korean, but she was inspired to explore her culinary roots after a two-week trip to Korea in November.

Vegan bibimbap ingredients

While in Korea, Ms. Song participated in several anti-dog meat protests with dozens of local activists. At times, she protested on her own, wearing a traditional Korean gown to draw the attention of the crowd and media who were assembled for the arrival of president Trump who was visiting South Korea as part of his tour of Asia.

Not only did Ms. Song reach thousands of Koreans on the streets with her message, but she also spoke to several reporters who approached her because they were in downtown Seoul reporting on President Trump’s visit.

Animal rights activist Susan Song protests dog meat trade in Seoul, South Korea

“I was overwhelmed by the welcome I received by the Korean activists. The weekly dog meat protest at the notorious Gupo dog meat market in Busan, Korea, usually attracts 20 activists. When the community heard that I was traveling from the U.S. to join them, over 120 activists came out to show their support.  About half of them chartered a bus to transport them from Seoul, which is six hours away. It demonstrates how grateful they are that activists around the world are joining them in the effort to stop the dog and cat meat trade.”

New York-based animal rights activist Susan Song joins anti-dog meat activists in Korea.

A month after Gupo market protest, the dog meat merchants expressed their intent to shut down their shops and slaughterhouses if an alternative way of livelihood can help be arranged for them.

As the PyeongChang Winter Olympics fast approaches in February of 2018, Ms. Song will continue to turn up the pressure on the S. Korean government to ban the dog and cat meat trade.

U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Protested Over Plan to Display Pandas

December 11, 2017 by 2 comments

The News

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. 

Animal Rights activists protest Carolyn Maloney’s plan to display pandas in a “Panda Pavillion” in NYC

“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.”

Activists chanted “No Panda Prison in NYC” as hundreds of New Yorkers entered an event for women in politics

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.

Huma Abedin, the Vice Chair of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign, stops to look at the protest and take a handout.

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.

At the “Black & White Panda Ball,” U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is flanked by Maurice (Hank) Greenberg and John Catsimatidis, two billionaires who are backing her plan to import and display pandas.

Your Turn

Please sign the Care2 petition asking Carolyn Maloney to call off her plan to import pandas into NYC for display.

Follow No Panda Prison NYC on Facebook.

Activist Delivers Message to Korean President About Dog Meat Trade

November 9, 2017 by 2 comments

The News

Susan Song meant it when she told her fellow advocates, “We’re going to deliver our message to President Moon Jae-in face-to-face.”

After working full time on the anti-dog meat campaign for 14 months, Ms. Song, a New York-based animal rights activist, got her chance. President Moon Jae-in was scheduled to be in New York City for a week in September 2017 for the United Nations General Assembly, and she was determined to find him and make a plea to save the dogs and cats of South Korea.  

Photo of South Korean Dog Farm taken from footage provided by James Hyams

She researched his schedule of public appearances so that she and her colleagues could position themselves in a spot where they would have the best chance to encounter him. She also bought a traditional Korean dress (hanbok) so that she would stand out in a crowd. 

While stuck in NYC traffic, S. Korean President Moon Jae-in looks at Susan Song and other anti-dog meat protesters

On President Moon’s very first day in town, Ms. Song got her chance. While standing in front of a hotel where President Moon was scheduled to speak, she saw a motorcade approaching and thought “This is it.”  Seconds later, she saw the President in the third car. Gridlock traffic prevented the motorcade from moving ahead, so Ms. Song and her fellow activists had his undivided attention for almost two minutes.

“He saw my traditional Korean dress and smiled broadly, but the smile turned to sadness and empathy when we showed him our posters about the horrific Korean dog meat trade,” said Ms. Song. “I know his response was genuine not only because I saw the look in his eyes but also because he has two rescue dogs and a cat. He understands and cares about  the plight of these poor animals, which is why I have no doubt that he will shut down the dog meat trade.”

Anti-dog meat activist Susan Song dressed in a traditional South Korean costume to capture the attention of the President of South Korea

In November, Ms. Song and her husband traveled to South Korea to meet with local activists, participate in protests, and discover what else she could do from the U.S. to assist in the effort to save the dogs and cats of South Korea.

Susan Song protests the dog meat trade in Seoul, South Korea

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