After a year and a half of multi-pronged lobbying campaign demanding better animal care and living conditions at Project Chimps, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced a $20 million commitment to his sanctuary in Georgia. According to his Press release, HSUS is allocating $5 million in 2022 to create habitat space for chimpanzees and $15 million in operational support to be distributed evenly over 10 years. The campaign, titled #ChimpsDeserveBetter, was led by local animal rights groups Chimps Deserve Better, Progress for Science and TheirTurn.
“We are thrilled that HSUS has pledged critical funding to create new habitat for the 81 chimpanzees who reside at the Chimps Project,” said New York-based Chimps Deserve Better Campaign Organizer Donny Moss. “After living in laboratories and being subjected to cruel research experiments, these chimpanzees deserve to spend their final years in as natural a setting as captivity can provide.”
The animal rights community learned of the plight of the chimpanzees in May 2020 after Project Chimps sued two former employees who started a website exposing poor animal care and living conditions at the sanctuary. Following online actions and protests at the homes of HSUS board members, Project Chimps dropped the lawsuit against whistleblowers, Crystal Alba and Lindsay Vanderhoogt.
Beginning in July 2020, animal rights groups launched a broader campaign calling on HSUS to hire a veterinarian with chimpanzee experience and to create enough habitat space at Project Chimps to allow chimpanzees to live. have daily access to the outdoors.
“With a new vet in place and funding to innovate in a new habitat, we are suspending protests against HSUS,” said Bob Ingersoll, San Francisco-based primatologist and organizer of the Chimpanzees Deserve Better campaign. “We hope to replace protests with open dialogue about changes being made to improve the lives of chimpanzees.”
“The infusion of funds will help improve facilities, if spent wisely,” said Lindsay Vanderhoogt, a whistleblower with Chimps Deserve Better. “But we would also like to see a culture change where management prioritizes the welfare of chimpanzees in the decision-making process.”
“Five million dollars is an important step towards providing chimpanzees with adequate housing and daily access to the outdoors,” said Cory Mac, organizer of the Chimpanzees Deserve Better campaign with Progress for Science, a group of anti-vivisection animal rights activists in Los Angeles. “We look forward to hearing more about how HSUS and Project Chimps will move forward to secure these necessities while instituting improved health care and practices for chimpanzees.”