In March 2015 the New York Blood Center NYBC, a very successful Non Profit organisation, decided to finally concentrate on their tasks and stopped paying the State of Liberia for the keeping of Chimpanzees. Those animals were used in research from the 1970s on until about eight years ago. For seven more years NYBC paid. This is what they say about it…
When they stopped funding, a huge outrage occurred amongst animal welfare groups.

The New York Times reported, giving some facts about the issue. That are:

  • The chimps are in the ownership of the state of Liberia
  • They are looked after by local people
  • They live on several islands in Liberia
  • It takes about 30000$ to provide the animals with water and food and to pay the local caregivers
  • The chimps can’t exist on the islands without human help because there is no fresh water and not enough natural food for them. 
  • The chimps can’t leave the islands because of water they can’t swim through
  • That is wanted to keep them save from pouches and to make sure they can’t infect wild living chimps with any viruses they may still carry from being used in research

This is what HumanSociety made of it. They don’t strictly cling to the facts, they try to push the only responsibility for the misery to the NYBC by shortening the story to ‘NYBC abandoned the Chimps’, by saying ‘they were left to die from starvation’ (what is untrue because the chimps are cared for, just by other organisations) and starting a campaign against NYBC. 

A lot of people obviously take their information from here and possibly conclude, that when NYBC is requested to reinstate funding, it must be their chimps that are talked about.

That’s a statement I heard a lot those past days, since I came into contact with some people, wishing to help the chimps. Some of them obviously strictly believe, the chimps belong to NYBC. 

That’s not the case. Most of the chimps belong to Liberia, some belong to the Ivory Coast, including a chimp called ‘Ponso’. There are between 63 and 100 chimps. I couldn’t find out the real number, mostly it’s reported about 66 chimps.

But simplifying facts goes further in this case. There are other groups, fighting for animal rights. One is Their Turn and it cares about a lot of issues connected with animals.

They cut the facts short again and declare single persons responsible to pay for the chimpanzee’s keeping.

Those people were chairmen or serving in other positions of NYBC at the time, the decision was made, to stop paying for the animals.

Those people do not own NYBC, they just worked or still work there. But now they face things like this, sent to me on Twitter:

  

Just to be clear, I have no idea, if this man is an honourable one, how he treats his family, his employees or his pets. But I know, that he is serving as chairman for NYBC and that he doesn’t own a single of those chimps. So, how can he leave animals to die, he doesn’t own? 

But that fact doesn’t provoke the animal rights activists to stop publishing such wrong statements. Instead they go and harass him even at his home. And they do the same with other people in similar positions. 

When I asked people about the truth behind these actions they first stated, that they really believe, the animals at least belonged to the NYBC, and named Human Society US as a source. What means, they didn’t research properly, but believed in the righteousness of information from second hand. A huge mistake obviously. 

And they strongly insisted, that those people they harass, have a moral duty to pay for the chimps. With their private money. Just because they have quite some money, earned or inherited. 

It’s another topic, that we have a problematic situation in terms of distribution of wealth on this earth. But that doesn’t automatically lead to a person’s duty to pay for what others find morally right.

What I found really problematic in the conversations with several of those people supporting the harass campaign of TheirTurn is, that just for asking questions I was labelled several times to be a supporter of those ‘cruel people’, I was questioned in my personal moral standards. Publicly and in private conversations. 

That in connection with spreading wrong informations aiming to influence people emotionally, looks to me as if it might even fulfill the definition of propaganda.

Propaganda is still used a lot. But it’s a very weak instrument, when real change is necessary. 

On the one hand a lot of people are trained not fall victim to propaganda these days. That might be reason, why this campaign obviously causes more disagreement than agreement, as far as I can see at least.

On the other hand spreading wrong information about the people, who are requested to solve the problem is always a very bad idea. It hinders the solution much more, than helping it. Not a good base for negotiations.
So in the end, these groups and their supporters probably do more harm to the chimps, than they do good. 

That’s sad, as the cause behind is a good one. But the chimpanzees don’t deserve to be abused for propaganda, as little as they deserve to be treated poorly.  

I hope for the chimps, that there are some serious people at work too, perhaps a bit more in secret, to find a solution for their whereabouts for the future.