Retired research chimps in need after money for care dries up

Story highlights

  • The New York Blood Center paid to care for retired research chimps for years
  • The chimps were subjects in research on hepatitis and other ailments
  • The center pulled funding, and other organizations are scrambling to help

(CNN)The fate of dozens of chimpanzees used in American biomedical experiments is up in the air after resources for their care and feeding were withdrawn this year.

The New York Blood Center, in partnership with the Liberian government, funded hepatitis research and other medical studies at the Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research beginning in 1974.
When the blood center decided 10 years ago to discontinue chimp research at the Vilab II facilities near Monrovia, it continued to pay for upkeep of the primates, which were set free to roam on several nearby islands.
    In January, the blood center gave the institute notice that it would no longer pay to care for the animals, and in March, the organization pulled funding, which sent the institute scrambling for resources to keep feeding them.
    "NYBC's support of the chimpanzees was entirely voluntary, offered on a philanthropic basis to permit discussions regarding Liberia's need to fulfill their responsibilities until the Government of Liberia could take over," the center said in a statement on its website. "The Government of Liberia and animal rights organizations knew all along that our support was voluntary and could not continue."
    Not so, say animal rights groups and the head of the Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research, who contend that the blood center has reneged on its obligation to care for the animals throughout their lives. The animals are being "left to die from starvation in retirement," Fatorma Bolay, who runs the research institute, told Front Page Africa Online.
    "It is appalling that the New York Blood Center is trying to wipe its hands of any responsibility for this colony of chimpanzees that they created and used for their own profit," Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues at the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement.