Why Research Chimps Were Abandoned in Liberia, According to Those Who Left Them

The New York Blood Center has responded to multiple cries for it to re-establish funding for the chimps it abandoned in Liberia by publishing a list of explanations.

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Aug 12 2015, 2:20pm

One of the chimps left in Liberia. Image: Jenny Desmond/The Humane Society of the United States

"Frequently asked questions" sections on websites are often quite useless, but every now and then they can reveal something intriguing, like the excuses organizations tell themselves to explain their questionable behavior.

The New York Blood Center, one of the nation's largest blood banks, abandoned dozens of research chimps on a string of islands in Liberia earlier this year, with no access to food or fresh water. A group of animal rights groups rallied together to save the chimps and raised funds to help feed the apes. But the money raised will only last a few months and the groups are still pressuring the NYBC to re-establish funding for the chimps it left behind. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed a petition and some have even shown up to stage protests at the NYBC headquarters, urging the blood bank to re-establish funding.

Naturally, the NYBC responded with a terse FAQ section on its website giving a list of reasons for why it cut funding for the chimps' care, including:

"NYBC supported the sanctuary voluntarily for more than seven years. We had no obligation to do so."

and

"The Government of Liberia and animal rights organizations knew all along that our support was voluntary and could not continue… and yet they did nothing to help us."

The Humane Society (one of the groups currently stepping in to care for the chimps) published a blog post in response, calling the FAQ page "dreadful," and questioning the core argument being presented.

"They are essentially arguing that after an organization with more than $300 million in annual revenue gathers animals from the wild and from the pet trade, infects them with the hepatitis B virus to intentionally sicken them, and then decides it doesn't want them any longer, it's the duty of animal welfare organizations to fund the care of the animals," the Humane Society post reads. "It can do much better than this, and it should."

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