On May 30, 2017, it was announced that an agreement was finally reached between the New York Blood Center (NYBC) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for NYBC to provide $6 million in funding towards the lifetime care of more than 60 chimpanzees NYBC used for research in Liberia, then abandoned without financial resources for their care in 2015.
The money pledged by NYBC will cover approximately half the cost for the lifetime care of these animals. HSUS agreed to assume “permanent responsibility for providing lifetime care for the chimpanzees,” including food and medical care. HSUS will also construct basic shelter and care facilities for the chimpanzees for the remainder of their lives, and will spearhead a campaign for public funding to cover the remaining costs for the chimpanzees’ care.
Animal advocacy groups, including the National Anti-Vivisection Society, welcome this agreement after almost two years of intransigence on the part of NYBC, which denied that it had any further financial or moral responsibility for the chimpanzees. According to an HSUS press release, Bill Richardson, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and founder of the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, assisted with the negotiations. “This is a good plan that NYBC and HSUS have crafted,” said Governor Richardson “There’s now a clear pathway to care for these chimpanzees in the decades ahead.”
In 2015 the public heard about the abandonment of more than 60 chimps used for research in Liberia by the New York Blood Center (NYBC). The chimps, who were retired from the NYBC’s labs a decade ago, saw all of the funding for their “lifetime” of care withdrawn in March 2015, according to a disturbing report in the New York Times. These chimpanzees were abandoned and left to starve on islands off the coast of Liberia as their caretakers were without resources to provide food and water, and without reliable transportation to reach the islands to bring supplies.
Volunteer caretakers stepped up to provide for the chimps as the animals were facing starvation and dehydration. A coalition of animal groups, including NAVS, contributed funding to provide for the needs of the chimpanzees, allowing for the resumption of daily food and water deliveries, along with repair of the boat used to deliver these provisions.
On August 31, 2016, after months of confidential negotiations with the NYBC and HSUS, which had been speaking directly with NYBC on behalf of the coalition, announced that it had ended its talks with NYBC. Despite the prolonged negotiations, NYBC’s previous offer of assistance would have only provided a scant 2% of the projected funds needed for the lifetime care of the chimpanzees. The coalition of animal groups advocating for these animals were hoping that non-confrontational talks would accomplish what public demands could not—an acknowledgement by NYBC that they should accept financial responsibility for the care of the chimpanzees it once used for its research.
This increased public awareness influenced corporate supporters of NYBC, MetLife, Citibank and most recently IBM, which withdrew their financial support of the company over NYBC’s failure to meet their responsibilities to the chimpanzees.
With this new agreement, the daily welfare of more than 60 chimpanzees has been assured. Thanks to all of the advocates—individuals and major corporations—who spoke out against NYBC’s position and urged them to live up to their responsibilities.