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Progress For Science Protests HSUS Over Animal Mistreatment at Project Chimps

September 30, 2020 by Leave a Comment

The News

Over 20 activists with Progress For Science, a Los Angeles-based animal rights group, staged a protest at the Santa Monica home of Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) board member Steven White over the mistreatment of animals at Project Chimps, HSUS’s chimpanzee sanctuary in Georgia.

White and his colleagues on the boards of HSUS and Project Chimps have refused to acknowledge and rectify animal welfare issues raised by 22 former sanctuary employees and volunteers who sent a letter to Project Chimps board to voice their concerns about poor veterinary care, infrequent access to the outdoors (10 hours/week), overcrowding, rushed chimpanzee introductions, a lack of sufficient enrichment in their concrete enclosures and other forms of neglect and deprivation. Two of these individuals, Crystal Alba and Lindsay Vanderhoogt, posted photos, videos and reports documenting the abuse on after they attempted to effect change from within Project Chimps.

Animal rights activists are demanding that HSUS’s Project Chimps provide the animals in their care with daily access to the outdoors

“The chimps are living in woefully substandard conditions at Project Chimps after being subjected to a lifetime of laboratory experiments,” said Cory Mac, an organizer with Progress For Science. “Instead of attempting to silence credible whistleblowers, Steven White and his colleagues at HSUS should be focused on improving animal care and providing the chimps with a humane retirement.”  In August, Project Chimps dropped a federal lawsuit it filed against Alba and Vanderhoogt, who continue to speak out on behalf of the chimps.

Animal rights activists with Progress for Science protest the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) over the mistreatment of animals at its Project Chimps sanctuary in Georgia

On July 9th, National Geographic published an in depth, investigative story about the animal cruelty allegations and the lawsuit against the whistleblowers. While it includes statements from both sides, the story paints a grim and disturbing picture of animal welfare that corroborates the allegations of the whistleblowers.

National Georgraphic investigative story about animal mistreatment at HSUS’s chimpanzee sanctuary, Project Chimps

Steven White is the third HSUS board member to be targeted with protests. In San Francisco, primatologist Bob Ingersoll and local activists protested at the Nob Hill home of Susan Atherton, the co-chair of HSUS’s Board of Directors. In New York, animal rights activists with TheirTurn staged two protests at an upscale clothing store owned by HSUS board member Brad Jakeman.

Animal rights activists demand the Steven White and his colleagues on HSUS’s Board of Directors improve animal welfare at Project Chimps

Animal rights activists vow to continue holding HSUS’s board members accountable until they improve the welfare standards at Project Chimps. Among their demands are providing the chimps with daily access to the outdoors; not taking in additional chimps until they can be accommodated humanely and hiring an Executive Director with chimpanzee experience.

Board members of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have been targeted with protests animal rights activists in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York who are demanding improved welfare conditions at its Project Chimps sanctuary in Georgia

In its public statements, HSUS asserts that third party inspections have exonerated Project Chimps of the animal cruelty allegations. However, the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), a sanctuary accrediting organization, made several animal welfare recommendations after conducting an investigation, in spite of its close financial ties to HSUS. Another inspection that HSUS references in an effort to discredit the welfare allegations was conducted by a veterinarian who HSUS paid $20,000 in “consulting” fees, in spite of the fact that she lives in a different state.

The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) made some of the same animal welfare recommendations as the whistleblowers

Among the protesters at Steven White’s home was Carole Raphaelle Davis, a Hollywood actress who recently starred in Madam Secretary. During her Facebook livestream, Davis encapsulated the feelings of many of the activists who participated ‘The Humane Society is the largest animal welfare organization in the country and is sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars; it can easily afford to give these animals the life they deserve, but they don’t and that’s why we won’t back down until they fix this wrong. The mistreatment of these chimps in their care is just not right. It’s not fair.”

Filed under: Experimentation
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Elected Officials Demand That NY Blood Center Reinstate Funding for Abandoned Chimps (VIDEO)

May 23, 2016 by Leave a Comment

The News

Elected officials in New York held a press conference at City Hall to demand that the New York Blood Center fulfill its promise to provide lifelong care for the 66 ex-lab chimpanzees who the group abandoned on islands in Liberia with no food or water. The press conference was organized by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which has stepped in on an emergency basis to feed the chimps using money raised through a GoFundMe campaign.

After demanding that NYBC resumes the funding, New York State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal said, “This isn’t a scene out of Lost,” referring to the TV series in which airplane crash survivors are stranded on a desert island. “This is real life for these chimpanzees.”

New York State Senator Tony Avella also condemned NYBC’s decision to abandon the chimpanzees: “They used them for 30 years, and now they just dump them on this island. So we stand here today to tell the New York Blood Center to do the right thing and follow through on your commitment.”

During the press conference, Joyce Friedman, the NYC Coordinator for HSUS, announced that ten New York City Council Members wrote an open letter to the NYBC demanding that the organization resumes funding:

Letter from NYC Council Members to NYBC

Letter from NYC Council Members to NYBC

For a thirty year period starting in the mid-1970s, NYBC conducted experiments on over 400 hundred chimpanzees in Liberia, where they could capture, breed and experiment on them with little regulatory oversight. After the research was conducted, NYBC moved the survivors onto six islands with no natural food or water and made a public commitment to provide them with lifelong care.

Liberians hired by HSUS feed the chimps abandoned by the New York Blood Center

Liberians hired by HSUS feed the chimps abandoned by the New York Blood Center (photo: Jeff Topham)

In May, 2015, the NY Times reported that NYBC had “withdrawn all funding,” leaving the chimps to die of starvation and thirst. In order to keep the chimps alive, Liberians who had been employed by NYBC 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.

Daily food delivery (photo: Jeff Topham)

Daily food delivery (photo: Jeff Topham)

Your Turn

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.

Follow TheirTurn on Twitter, and follow “Save NYBC Chimps” on Instagram and Twitter.

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Matthew McConaughey’s Texas Ranch Sells Canned Hunts

February 2, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

UPDATE (6:00 p.m., February 4) –  Matthew McConaughey’s spokesperson says that he sold his interest in the ranch in 2011, in spite of the fact that LP Ranch’s website described him as a “co-owner” and “staff” member as of February 4th, 2015. His photo was removed from the website on the day the news broke in the mainstream media. Stories about the controversy have been published in The Daily News, TMZ, The Daily Mail and many other media outlets.


Actor Matthew McConaughey, a former spokesman for the “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner” ad campaign, co-owns a ranch that sells canned hunts. According to his company’s website, “We at LP Ranch pride ourselves with our whitetail deer hunts.”

With his brother Mike, actor Matthew McConaughey owns a cattle ranch that sells canned hunts.

With his brother Mike, actor Matthew McConaughey owns a cattle ranch that sells canned hunts.

McConaughey purchased the LP Ranch in 2001. Six years later, the ranch “decided it was time to expand” by selling canned hunts. For visitors spending the night, the ranch offers “Old West” accommodations with a “modern touch” so that “after the hunt, our guests can feel assured to eat some great meals and relax in all out comfort” (unlike the animals who they killed for fun that day).

"Relax in all out comfort" after shooting deer at Matthew McConaughey's Ranch

“Relax in all out comfort” after shooting deer at Matthew McConaughey’s Ranch

LP Ranch also sells horses who are “ready for any ranching task that may be asked of them” and cattle who they “treat in a way that will allow them to be ready for any conditions.” According to his nephew Madison who is LP’s “Cattle Manager,” McConaughey is a “big beef man” who “feels it’s important to raise Angus cattle and support the beef industry.” In fact, McConaughey was a beef industry spokesman  in 2010:

Your Turn

Canned hunts are among the cruelest forms of hunting. Not only is the other “team” unarmed and unaware that they are being targeted, but they are also confined to a fenced in area with no possible way to escape. In 2011, HSUS conducted an undercover investigation of canned hunting operations to educate the public about this outrageous “sport.”

Filed under: Entertainment, Food
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Breaking News: First-Ever Footage of Hen Slaughterhouse Shows Egregious Violations

January 5, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

Eggs. Billions upon billions of eggs are consumed in the United States each year. Most consumers buys eggs by the dozen and crack them open without giving a second thought to where they come from, much less what happens to the hens when they can no longer lay them.

Today, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released the first-ever footage from a slaughterhouse for spent hens. The footage was taken by an undercover investigator who spent 57 days documenting what happens to the 85,000 hens killed each day at just one slaughterhouse – Butterfield Foods in the state of Minnesota.

The most egregious abuse uncovered was scalding hens while they were still alive. Hens are supposed to be dropped into an electrified water trough to render them unconscious before having their throats slit and being dropped into scalding tanks for feather removal, but that doesn’t always happen. In a thirty minute period, the HSUS investigator counted approximately 45 birds who were drowned alive in the scalding tanks. It’s the most grisly end possible for animals who spent their entire caged lives in a space smaller than a sheet of paper.

battery cage hens

Hens in battery cages

Even though chickens and turkeys represent 9 out of 10 animals who are slaughtered in the U.S., the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act exempts them. Nonetheless, HSUS invoked Minnesota’s anti-cruelty code to file a complaint with the state. The organization also filed a complaint with the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service on the grounds that Butterfield is violating the Poultry Products Inspection Act.

The hens slaughtered at Butterfield are transported in crates from factory farms all over the country. During their long journey, the hens, who are already battered after spending their lives in battery cages, are deprived of food, water, space to move and protection from the weather. The investigator documented birds who arrived dead; with broken bones; and covered in feces.

When the trucks arrive at Butterfield, workers grab the frantic hens out of the crates with a metal hook, shackle them upside down, and send them on a conveyer belt from an electrified water trough to a neck cutting station to a scalding tank. The investigator witnessed hens attempting to right themselves; hens who missed the electrified trough; and hens who had their necks sliced while fully conscious. Some hens arrived alive and bleeding at the scalding tank where they were boiled.

Butterfield Foods

Butterfield Foods

Who eats spent hens? Their bodies, which were bred to lay eggs, have very little meat. In addition, hens often have broken bones which splinter into the flesh. Paul Shapiro, HSUS’ VP for Farm Animal Protection, says that most this low-grade meat, valued at 2 cents/bird, is used for farm animals and pet food. At Butterfield, however, the meat is canned for human consumption and sold to discount stores.

butterfield chicken

Hens can live for over a decade, but, on factory farms, they are sent to the slaughterhouse at 12 – 18 months, which is when they stop laying eggs.

Your Turn

The best way to prevent this cruelty is to stop eating chickens and their eggs.  But you can also help by urging the United States Secretary of Agriculture  at the USDA to include poultry under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

Filed under: Food, Investigations
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Will Pig Gestation Crates Be Banned in NJ?

October 28, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

NJ Governor Chris Christie has until early December to sign a bill banning gestation crates, the small cages that house sows (female breeding pigs) for most of their adult lives. According to the National Pork Producers Council, nine out of 10 sows in America are held in gestation crates.

gestation crates factory farm

Governor Christie vetoed a similar bill in 2013, claiming that pig farmers made a more persuasive argument than the activists. HSUS’ Matt Dominguez said his decision could have been based on political expedience: “The governor’s veto last year had more to do with presidential politics given that Iowa, the nation’s biggest pork production state, hosts the Republican caucuses come 2016.” The landscape, however, has changed. According to Dominguez, polls in Iowa show that voters “would think more highly, not less, of Christie if he signs this bill.”

Mercy For Animals Protest at Walmart

Mercy For Animals Protest at Walmart

Jane Velez-Mitchell reports on the status of the gestation crate bill in NJ:

Several public figures have spoken out in support of a ban. In 2013, lifestyle maven Martha Stewart sent a letter to NJ lawmakers asking them to override Christie’s veto: “These animals have committed no crime, yet they’re treated worse than even the most violent criminals would be treated.” In a recent NY Times op-ed, political commentator Bill Maher makes a public appeal to Christie to pass the new bill: “Would you cram a dog into a crate for her entire life, never letting her out, until you took her to the pound to kill her?”

gestation crates

What agribusiness doesn’t want consumers to see

In a NY Times op-ed in February, writer Nicholas Kristof said, “These are tiny stalls that are barely bigger than the pigs, who don’t even have enough room to turn around. They live out their adult lives without exercise or meaningful social interaction; it’s like a life sentence of solitary confinement in a coffin, punctuated by artificial insemination and birth.”

In August, a bill to ban the crates failed to pass in Massachusetts. In an industry journal, local hog farmer Lisa Colby declared a victory for “the rights of local farmers” and for “farmers’ choices in taking care of their animals.” Agribusiness justifies the use of crates by claiming that they “allow for individualized care and eliminate aggression from other sows.”

Your Turn

Gestation crates are being phased out in several states, and major pork customers like McDonalds are requiring their suppliers to phase them out. However, far more work needs to be done to eliminate these crates in the U.S. and worldwide. To help ensure a victory in New Jersey, please take the following steps:
1. Sign the petition
2. Tweet  Governor Christie (@GovChristie) in support of the bill and use the hashtag #signS998
3. Call the Governor’s office 609-292-6000

Filed under: Food, Investigations
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