NEW YORK, NY – Protesters will be outside the offices of the New York Blood Center in Manhattan on Thursday, calling on the center to take care of chimpanzees it used for biomedical research in Liberia.
The chimps were used for 30 years. When that research ended a decade ago, the chimps were moved to a colony on islands near Monrovia, where the Blood Center continued to fund their care. However, according to Kathleen Conlee, vice president for animal research at The Humane Society of the United States, last March the funding for that care was withdrawn.
“These chimpanzees would not be there if it weren’t for their activities,” she said, “and we are urging them to reinstate funding immediately.”
There were 66 chimps in the colony when the funding stopped. Two have since died. Officially, they belong to the government of Liberia, and the Blood Center says it has no obligation to provide for their care.
Conlee said the Blood Center had committed to giving the chimps a lifetime of care, and when the funding stopped they were in danger of dehydration and starvation.
“Five of the six islands the chimpanzees are on did not have working water systems,” she said, “and the chimps were only getting handed cups of water every other day and getting food every other day.”
The Humane Society stepped in, repaired the water system and now the chimps are getting food and water every day at a cost of about 20,000 dollars a month.
Chimpanzees are no longer used for invasive research in the United States and those that were in labs are now being retired to sanctuaries to live out their lives. Conlee believes the chimps in Liberia should get no less.
“So, we want to send a strong message,” she said, “that if you own chimpanzees or have used chimpanzees in the past, you should take responsibility and provide them with the peaceful life that they deserve.”
The Humane Society of the United States is working with 37 other organizations to provide emergency support for the chimpanzees still in the colony.
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