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INVESTIGATION: Is the Humane Society’s ‘Project Chimps’ providing a true sanctuary to its chimpanzee residents?

All chimps are confined to an indoor housing structure with cement floors all but 10 hours a week. Project Chimps expects the earliest they will receive daily outdoor access is in 2 years.

NHRP: In recent months, whistleblowers have brought to light well-documented information that shows Project Chimps and the Humane Society of the United States (Project Chimps’ primary funder) are not fulfilling their commitment to provide true sanctuary to Project Chimps’ chimpanzee residents, including the NhRP’s clients Hercules and Leo. The NhRP is calling on Project Chimps and HSUS to take whatever steps and devote whatever resources are necessary to immediately provide Hercules and Leo with daily access to an outdoor habitat. Please find the NhRP’s statement below.

For years, our clients, chimpanzees Hercules and Leo, were imprisoned and exploited in a basement lab at Stony Brook University for use in locomotion research while “on loan” from the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) in Louisiana… We argued for sanctuary for Hercules and Leo throughout our litigation, which saw them become the first nonhuman animals in the world to have a habeas corpus hearing to determine the lawfulness of their imprisonment… We then immediately commenced negotiations with NIRC to have Hercules and Leo moved to Save the Chimps in Florida, which was a fully operational, world-renowned sanctuary in which we had secured places for them before we ever filed suit on their behalf. There, Hercules and Leo would have had near-unfettered outdoor access to a three- to five-acre island with numerous other chimpanzees…

In 2018, after Hercules and Leo arrived at Project Chimps, we wrote to Kitty Block, president of The Humane Society of the United States, on behalf of our clients and presented our serious and well-founded concerns about Project Chimps’ capacity to provide appropriate care to Hercules and Leo, especially regarding daily access to an outdoor habitat, which is essential to chimpanzees’ ability to exercise their autonomy and their physical and psychological health. Ms. Block dismissed our concerns, writing that HSUS is “confident that Project Chimps will devote the resources necessary to provide the best lifetime care to all of the chimpanzees at its sanctuary, including Hercules and Leo…

In the two and a half years that followed, Project Chimps assured us that a plan was in place and on track for Hercules and Leo to have daily access to the outdoor habitat. We therefore believed that Hercules and Leo were finally going to experience the freedom, peace, and dignity they had long been denied and for which we had so long fought on their behalf. In recent months, however, whistleblowers have brought to light well-documented information that shows Project Chimps and HSUS are not in fact fulfilling their commitment to provide true sanctuary to Project Chimps’ 78 chimpanzee residents, including Hercules and Leo…

Specifically we have learned, and Project Chimps does not dispute, that Hercules and Leo are confined to an indoor housing structure with cement floors and an enclosed porch all but ten hours a week. Project Chimps’ Executive Director told us they expect the earliest they will receive daily outdoor access is in two years. In our view, this timeline is an unacceptable failure to live up to Project Chimps’ founding promise: lifelong exemplary care for chimpanzees retired from research. For this reason, we are calling on Project Chimps and HSUS to immediately make changes in their planning and operations to ensure they are respecting chimpanzees’ freedom and autonomy. SOURCE… SOURCE…

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