Breaking: New York Blood Center Makes Statement Regarding Abandoned Chimps


Early Wednesday morning, July 15th, the New York Blood Center released a short statement regarding their abandonment of sixty-six chimpanzees in Liberia. The release can be read here but has since been scrubbed from their site. This morning, NYBC issued yet another statement, this time with a much different angle and emphasis. We've included a copy here just in case it, uh, disappears. 

Abandoned chimps on the island, being hand fed. Credit: Agnes Souchal. 

Abandoned chimps on the island, being hand fed. Credit: Agnes Souchal. 

The most important thing about this release is that the New York Blood Center is finally acknowledging what they've done in a public forum. By simply addressing the elephant in the room, regardless of their argument, they recognize themselves as participants in this fiasco. Their language in this second edit is also noteworthy, as it is far more pointed and defensive than the first release. This new statement shifts focus onto the reader and the Liberian government, in a very vain attempt to escape the spotlight. Finally, the last paragraph is particularly awe-inspiring, as the NYBC has the gall to thank the countless organizations draining themselves to pick up the center's slack, saying: "NYBC appreciates the many groups that have the mission, expertise and resources to focus on finding what they consider to be a suitable outcome." 

Well, that's certainly an interesting spin on things. The brilliant folks at Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN) made an excellent statement and response of the first release on their Facebook page, which we'll leave you with here:

The New York Blood Center (NYBC) recently issued a statement  denying their responsibility for the 66 chimpanzees that they abandoned in Liberia by eliminating funding for their care in March 2015. NYBC is attempting to frame this issue in terms of Liberian property law when this is clearly an issue of morality and corporate responsibility. NYBC is also attempting to present this issue as a discussion of the ethics of primate research or chimpanzee retirement.  Neither of these issues is relevant because these chimpanzees are no longer used in experimentation and have already been removed from the research lab setting. Again, the issues raised by NYBC are nothing but an intentional distraction calculated to direct attention away from their lack of corporate responsibility.
In 1974 NYBC entered into a contract with the Liberian government to utilize the defunct Liberian Institute of Biomedical Research. To carry out their experimentation, NYBC initially obtained chimps from the area, either unwanted pets or wild-caught animals. As time went on, the chimpanzees were encouraged to breed and their numbers grew. This current group of 66 chimps, totally dependent on humans, was created by and for NYBC. Therefore, the chimpanzees are clearly and irrefutably the responsibility of NYBC.  
According to both former Center staff and sources within the Liberian government, the understanding has always been that NYBC would care for the chimps even after the experimentation ended. However, NYBC is now claiming that when their use of the Center ended and it reverted back to the Liberian government, so did their obligation to the chimps. NYBC claims that they had only been caring for the chimps since the closure of the center "on a philanthropic basis." NYBC's recent suspension of all funding for the chimps threatens their lives even after they defied all odds by surviving both civil unrest and experimentation.
NYBC's assets for the fiscal year ending in March 2014, totaled more than $400 million. Additionally, NYBC profited over $500 million as a result of the experimentation performed on the chimpanzees. So money surely cannot AND should not be NYBC's motivation for terminating their committed obligation of roughly $380,000 annually (about $16 per day per chimp) for the lifetime care of the Liberian chimps.
NYBC's denial of responsibility for these chimps is deplorable in light of the fact that an NYBC employee literally gave his life, being shot to death in front of his wife, to defend the chimps during Liberian civil unrest.
NYBC has a clear moral and ethical obligation to care for these chimps. 

The activist community, of course, is still not backing down. After yesterday's successful protest of chairman Howard Milstein, Donny Moss and his team are planning another for this upcoming Tuesday, July 21st

-- UPDATE --

EVENT PAGE: A new page has been made and will now be used for ongoing actions for the public, join here.

PROTEST IN NYC: The second home demonstration and protest of NYBC Chairman Howard Milstein will be from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. If you'll be in New York this Tuesday, please join the event here.

Need a little more info on this situation? Read our prior coverage