Former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson joins fight to save New York Blood Center chimps

By on September 27, 2016 with 5 Comments

EDITOR’S NOTE: GOOD NEWS! The HSUS and the New York Blood Center have announced an agreement to provide long-term sanctuary for the Liberian chimpanzees. READ THE UPDATE »

I was so pleased to be joined by former New Mexico governor and United Nations ambassador Bill Richardson today in a mid-morning press conference to announce a collaborative campaign to secure a safe future for dozens of laboratory chimpanzees abandoned by the New York Blood Center on a set of islands in Liberia.

The Richardson Center for Global Engagement, led by one of the best-known negotiators in the world, is committed to holding the Blood Center accountable for its responsibility to chimpanzees but also to provide support for proper sanctuary of the beleaguered chimps until that responsibility is reclaimed. It was in March 2015 that the Blood Center, a charity with at least $400 million in assets, left more than 60 chimpanzees for dead. The abandonment happened at the worst possible time, during an Ebola crisis that consumed the attention of the government of Liberia and public-health advocates throughout the world, and in a habitat without sufficient food or water.

Gov. Richardson has emerged as a leader in the animal protection movement, and one of his signature achievements was triggering the campaign to end the use of chimpanzees in invasive experiments in the United States and retire them from U.S. laboratories to sanctuaries (I wrote about his decisive role in The Humane Economy). We’ve seen game-changing progress on both those fronts—with invasive chimpanzee research effectively ending in the United States last year and a current focus on moving hundreds of chimpanzees to sanctuary. We’re so pleased to now have the governor’s support on our work to help the abandoned chimpanzees in Liberia, marking an expansion of his concern about chimps to the global arena.

As readers of this blog know, New York Blood Center is still refusing to accept financial responsibility for the chimpanzees it exploited for years, despite immense pressure to do so. The Blood Center recently rejected our generous offer to run all operations and provide significant financial assistance for a problem that they created (instead, they offered to provide only a small fraction–less than five percent — of what it will cost to care for these animals over their lifetimes.) The Blood Center has since claimed it is willing to work with “other” organizations to find a solution for the chimpanzees. But this is a talking point and a hollow answer, since there are no groups waiting who have the resources and expertise to spend millions to care for chimps that the Blood Center put into this circumstance.

As part of our new phase in pressuring the Blood Center, Gov. Richardson and I recently sent a joint letter to nearly 90 of the Blood Center’s most significant organizational donors, urging them to join MetLife and Citigroup in saying they won’t support the charity until it fulfills its animal welfare responsibilities. We’ve already heard from the head of Xerox Foundation who called the situation “deplorable.” The HSUS has reached out to several of these organizations in the past—including large multinationals such as IBM and Johnson & Johnson and local, New York based foundations like the New York Community Trust—and we eagerly await their response. These companies risk their own reputation by continuing a business-as-usual relationship with the Blood Center, given its reckless course of action.

Thanks to dedicated donors, staff, volunteers, and the support of the government of Liberia, we’ve been able to stabilize the situation for the chimpanzees. And while we will continue to pressure the Blood Center, we cannot wait any longer to begin the next phase of planning for the long-term care of the chimpanzees in Liberia. The Richardson Center is generously providing support to help us get this effort off the ground. Continuing to work closely with the Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research and agencies within the government of Liberia will also be a critical part of this effort. We hope to partner with these institutions to create a sanctuary that meets high accreditation standards, similar to others in Africa and the United States.

The establishment of a high quality chimpanzee sanctuary—which would be the first ever in Liberia—will help not only the chimpanzees abandoned by the Blood Center, but also other animals in the country who are victims of the bush meat and pet trades. Well-run sanctuaries also have the added benefits of promoting wildlife conservation through the support of law enforcement, education, and public awareness campaigns, and providing opportunities for local communities through capacity building, employment, and tourism.

It’s great to have Governor Richardson on our side, and active. We are honored to work with him, and we know he’s now poised to add to his record of accomplishments for animals. We will keep you updated on our progress and hope we can count on you to help us in our efforts to give these chimpanzees the life they deserve, and to ensure that the Blood Center plays a significant financial role in making it a reality.

Help the abandoned chimpanzees in Liberia »

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Animal Rescue and Care, Animal Research and Testing

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5 Comments

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  1. Angela Proper says:

    Thank you for continuing to support these precious animals and for holding the NYBC accountable!

  2. G. Garvoie Kardoh says:

    This an attempt to give some serious consideration to the issue of the abandoned chimps in Liberia and I want to applaud Governor Bill Richardson and team for their intervention. I however encourage them not to disregard the interest and well-being of the people of that community who have had to put up with the problems (economic, traumatic and health risks) imposed on them by the research laboratory; having their ancestral land colonized by laboratory animals for over 40 years. The people of this region have waited patiently for years to have these animals placed in proper and standard sanctuary to have the land restored to them.

  3. Dona LaSchiava says:

    GOD BLESS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Nancy O'Neal says:

    This is a man made catastrophe. These victims have suffered greatly and we can never erase the harm they have done. The best we can do is to offer as much help as we can mobilize and learn from our mistakes. So we give gratitude to those who come forward to champion this righteous cause of making amends as best we can and fighting those who would precipitate this cruelty.

  5. Eli says:

    Yet another example of vivisection run amok. And why? A lack of legislation and best practices dictated by US Lawmakers!

    I applaud HSUS and Governor Richardson’s admirable, honorable efforts to help these abandoned chimps. At the same time, there should be effective consequences for NYBC! But first, there must be strong legislation which holds organizations like NYBC accountable. How dare they say they are willing to work with “other” organizations to help fix their cruel disaster, when they harbored no such intention. How cavalier! How cruel, how pathetic and how dirty can humans be? Vivisection is brutal business. Best practices guidelines or no. There is no good outcome for ANY animals so brutalized in laboratories. Much of Europe has effectively banned vivisection, in favor of human simulated models. Why can’t we achieve that in the USA? Greed is the likely answer. It permeates most everything concerning animal abuse, neglect, cruelty and torture, we could name.

    The breeding (and yes, even the training!) of laboratory destined animals, is very profitable. The design and manufacture of caging for those same animals is also quite lucrative. The special designing of particular torture chambers, by so called “engineers” is also quite profitable. In essence, if vivisection was banned on live animals, well…you get the idea. A lot of bucks down the proverbial profit drain.

    So be it. Down the drain is precisely where that money belongs. We should endeavor to speak out and speak loudly, at every opportunity, to save animals from the pain, misery, abuse, torture and insanity, at the hands of careless, thoughtless, profiteers. In factory farming, laboratories, zoo’s, circuses, road side shows, so called “animal parks”. Anyplace and everyplace we see animal abuse, neglect, torture and imprisoned animals.

    I am always appalled by how many of us are simply not educated on this subject? I propose that an Animal Welfare class be mandatory in each and every grade of our public educational system, from grades K-12. A year long, minimum twice weekly class which teaches our precious children how important animal welfare is, how to promote it, practice it, honor it and advocate for it.

    We cannot separate our natural world from ourselves. Every creature, every stream, every ocean, every plant, and every one of US are inextricably bound together. At the top of the food chain, we perch. But we must be very mindful of considering ourselves superior to all other creatures. We are not. What we are is different. Not synonymous with superior. How a society treats its animals, is, I believe, a direct reflection of our morality, ethics and values, and therefore, our worth to our world. Without respect for animals, we are lowly creatures indeed. .

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