Filed to Things That Will Make You Angry; The New York Times ran a rather depressing piece last Thursday on the plight of 66 chimps that have found themselves left behind.
There aren’t enough face palm/table flipping gifs in the world for this.
The need for the colonies began in 1974, when the center began a research program studying the effects of the hepatitis virus. At the same time the United Stated banned the importation of wild-caught chimpanzees and the center found itself establishing a research center abroad. Living on a small series of mangrove islands off the coast of Liberia, until just recently the uncaged colonies were maintained for the last 30 years.
This isn’t to say that the New York Blood Center hasn’t tried to take care of the animals. Research on the island ended a decade ago in 2005 and the Center began withdrawing personnel in 2007 while trying to look for a solution for their chimps. Their director at the time was committed to continuing paying the $30,000 a month that it costs to provide food, water and repairs to the islands.
However with no long term plan and negotiations for alternative care breaking down, this year the center made a devastating call. On March 5th they finally withdrew funding to the colonies, leaving the chimps behind. The remaining caretakers stayed out of devotion to the animals (with no natural fresh water on the islands, the chimps are entirely dependent on outside resources) and the islands began to fall into a state of disrepair.
Obviously any business would want to cut their losses once a program ends and they no longer need their assets. However the assets here are complex, intelligent creatures and it’s inhumane to simply abandon them when you can’t find someone else to care for them. The center trapped, infected these chimps for their research, and turned them loose in an environment that demands support. Long-term plans should have been made far in advance for when the program ended, but they weren’t and we’re seeing the animals suffer as a result of poor planning and even poorer decision making.
Right now the United States Humane Society and other international humane societies have stepped in to help the abandoned island colonies. They’ve made repairs, began footing the tremendous bill to care for the chimps, and have begun putting pressure on the New York Blood Center to resume responsibility.
As a long-term solution is sought out, the USHS has set up a GoFundMe page where people can donate towards the colonies care. They’re also urging everyone to pressure the New York Blood Center to own up to taking care of these chimps they’ve used and ultimately discarded.
For more information, check out Vice’s 2014 report below.
Image via gofundme/humane society