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DERELICTION OF DUTY: The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) has a financial and ethical obligation to chimpanzees at Project Chimps

By reneging on its commitment and by distancing itself from Project Chimps, HSUS has betrayed the chimpanzees, its fiduciary duties and its obligations to its affiliate sanctuary.

DONNY MOSS: Since June 2020, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has come under public scrutiny over its failure to provide a humane retirement for the chimpanzees at Project Chimps, its sanctuary in Georgia that is home to 82 former lab chimpanzees. When, in 2020, whistleblowers and animal rights groups, including the Nonhuman Rights Project and PETA, began calling on HSUS to improve welfare conditions, HSUS took steps to distance itself from the sanctuary instead of fulfilling its obligations to the chimpanzees…

In 2014, Sarah Baeckler and Bruce Wagman, both of whom were attorneys and chimp advocates, met with the University of Louisiana to ask if it would release the 220 chimps it owned at NIRC to a sanctuary. When the university agreed, they incorporated Project Chimps, and Wagman became the Chairman of the Board. As an outside attorney for HSUS, Wagman had a close working relationship with the organization and solicited its support in the expensive endeavor of creating Project Chimps.

In 2015, HSUS helped Project Chimps purchase a defunct gorilla sanctuary in Georgia that would serve as Project Chimps’ home. In exchange, HSUS took over a majority of seats on Project Chimps’ Board of Directors and “fully integrated” the sanctuary into the organization…

The following report details the conflicts of interest and obfuscation that have enabled HSUS to provide substandard care to the chimpanzees while giving the public the impression that Project Chimps is a true sanctuary. It also describes HSUS’s obligation to the approximately 130 chimpanzees waiting to be rescued from the New Iberia Research Center, a laboratory at the University of Louisiana…

When HSUS took control of the board of Project Chimps in 2015, it made a commitment to fulfill the sanctuary’s mission to provide humane retirement to the 220 chimpanzees at NIRC. As part of that commitment, HSUS should have built enough housing structures to accommodate all of the NIRC chimpanzees and created enough habitat space to enable them to have daily access to the outdoors. By reneging on its commitment and by distancing itself from Project Chimps, HSUS has betrayed the chimpanzees, its fiduciary duties and its obligations to its affiliate sanctuary…

Save The Chimps, a sanctuary in Florida that has approximately 230 chimpanzees, is backed by The Arcus Foundation. Similarly, Chimp Haven, a sanctuary in Louisiana with more than 300 chimpanzees, receives 75% of its chimp care funding from the NIH. In order to rescue the approximately 130 chimpanzees who remain at NIRC and to humanely accommodate the 82 chimpanzees who are already at the sanctuary, Project Chimps also needs financial backing. HSUS made a commitment to do so. And it has the resources. Over the past several years, HSUS has raised millions of dollars off of the plight of captive chimpanzees and, according to an inside source, it recently received a $100 million estate gift from a donor who had an affinity for chimpanzees…

Instead of misleading the public about conditions at Project Chimps, attempting to extricate itself of its obligations and making excuses for it hasn’t expanded Project Chimps, HSUS must use a fraction of its substantial wealth to break ground on new habitats and transform the 236 acre forested property into a true sanctuary that meets and exceeds the standards of other North American chimpanzee sanctuaries provide. The chimpanzees have already waited far too long for a safe, natural and enriched life…

People around the world have been frustrated about the pandemic “lockdowns” despite the fact that most have been able to enjoy the outdoors and the comforts of home. If we feel like our freedoms have been compromised, then imagine the stress experienced by the chimpanzees who have spent up to five years largely confined in concrete rooms at Project Chimps and up to several decades in a laboratory before that. SOURCE…

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