UPDATE: Click here to view the agreement reached between The Humane Society of the U.S. and NYBC to provide lifetime care for the Liberian chimpanzees.
Q: Why did New York Blood Center stop its support for the Liberian chimpanzees?
A: We care deeply about the welfare of the Liberian Government-owned chimpanzees which lived in a Liberian Government-owned “for profit” research center. Along with spending substantial funds and effort caring for the chimpanzees for years after our obligation there had ended, we worked diligently to find a long-term care solution.
Unfortunately, NYBC could no longer sustain diverting millions of dollars away from our lifesaving mission of providing patients over one million critically needed blood products each year. We appreciate assistance from the many organizations and individuals that have the mission, expertise and resources to care for these animals long-term.
Q: What about the health of the chimpanzees? Are they being cared for?
A: We care deeply about the welfare of the chimpanzees in the Liberian sanctuary. Along with voluntarily supporting the chimpanzees for close to a decade, we have worked diligently to find a long-term care solution. Reports indicate they are currently being fed and cared for and are in good health.
Q: Doesn't NYBC have a moral responsibility to care for these chimpanzees?
A: NYBC’s responsibility is to our blood donors, hospitals and patients here in the New York area and throughout the United States. Thanks to NYBC’s efforts, thousands of lives are saved each year through the provision of blood and blood-related products. Any resources diverted from these efforts have a substantial cost. At the same time, we understand and are sensitive to the welfare of the chimpanzees in the Liberian sanctuary.
Q: Didn’t Alfred Prince, the director of the facility, pledge to take care of these chimpanzees for life?
A: Dr. Prince was an employee of NYBC, but he made statements that were his own opinions and not authorized or approved by NYBC. The Government of Liberia and numerous animal right organizations knew all along that our support after our last contract ended was entirely voluntary and could not continue.
Q: Didn't NYBC make profits off these chimps?
A: No. NYBC is a not-for-profit organization. Proceeds NYBC receives as a result of our research are reinvested in further research and discovery—and in the provision of blood and blood-related products and services that save thousands of lives each year.
Q: Who benefits from our research?
A: More than one million people whose lives were saved through the low-cost Hepatitis B vaccine, along with those who received vaccines for the SARS and MERS virus. Also those whose lives have been saved through the development of stem cell therapies, patients with hemophilia and AIDS, accident victims, burn patients and cancer patients have benefited from our products and services in healthcare facilities here in the United States. That is why we believe our focus needs to be within our local community… where we are saving lives every day.
Q: How did NYBC become involved in Liberia?
A: NYBC located its research colony in Liberia because chimpanzee research was essential to the development of a Hepatitis vaccine; Dr. Prince chose Liberia because the conditions for the chimpanzees were more humane than the conditions at chimpanzee research facilities in the United States at the time. Beginning in 1976, NYBC entered into a series of five contracts with the Government of Liberia to establish the Hepatitis research laboratory; the last ended in July of 2007.
Q: Why is NYBC in arbitration with Liberia, and is this part of that case?
A: Several years ago, Liberia decided to launch an arbitration related to the decades-old agreements we had with the organization—even as we were supporting their chimp sanctuary with NYBC funding, on a matter totally unrelated to the maintenance of the chimpanzee sanctuary. As this is a matter in active arbitration, we cannot comment on the specifics of the dispute, except to say that we are confident we will prevail.
Q: Why are you refusing to help Ponso, the last surviving member of an NYBC chimpanzee colony on an island near the Ivory Coast?
A: The chimpanzee nicknamed “Ponso” is unrelated to current issues regarding the Liberian sanctuary. NYBC has no direct information as to whether this is actually a chimpanzee that was part of the research group in Liberia.
That said, NYBC is sensitive to the welfare of all animals, including the chimpanzees at the Liberian sanctuary. We appreciate assistance from the many organizations and individuals that have the mission, expertise and resources to care for these animals long-term.
NYBC is willing to discuss these issues with any legitimate animal rights organization, but not with those who attempt to threaten or bully us, or with organizations who encourage those whose actions Dr. Jane Goodall herself has called “terrorism.”
Q: What would be NYBC's desired solution to the situation in Liberia?
A: We believe that the best care for the offspring of the research chimpanzees would come from the many organizations and individuals that have the mission, expertise and resources to care for animals long-term. NYBC is more than happy to coordinate with these organizations to ensure that these animals receive the resources they need to survive.