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This Planet Spotlight was created on Jun 11, 2015 @ 10:44:59 pm

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Wildlife THE REAL Planet of the Apes

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THE REAL Planet of the Apes

Story by: Attila Domos

Generally speaking, I'm not a "sappy" kind of guy. I've lived on this Earth long enough to know that life is hard and rarely ever "fair". That said, it bothers me when anyone makes a promise to do something and doesn't follow through. It's even worse when corporations exhume this type of behavior, considering the amount of tax breaks and government welfare they often receive. Case in point... what is happening on a chain of small islands just off the coast of Liberia.

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Our story starts in 1974, in Monrovia (Liberia),with a research company named The NY Blood Center (NYBC). This company launched a research program at the (by then) defunct Liberian Institute of Biomedical Research. The place was selected because of the deal NYBC had worked out with the Liberian government, and the availability to a large number of chimps, who could no longer be kept as pets by the locals. Apparently once a chimp reaches the age of five, he/she become very difficult to control. For the next 32 years (1974-2006) the NYBC conducted an entire array of studies, mostly related to Hepatitis A, B, and C.

The research wasn't always easy. Not because of the chimps, but because of West Africa's turbulent period, especially from the late 80's through the first decade of the 21st century. This part of the continent is especially rich in diamonds, and where there's wealth & natural resources to be had, war is sure to follow. It's exactly what happened to this West African nation in 1989.

Liberia fell into a bloody civil war, when Charles Taylor returned with the Libyan-backed resistance group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, to overthrow the Doe regime. Once Charles Taylor was successful in his over throwing of the previous regime, he allowed the scientists to continue with their work. Things went back to normal and NYBC continued to rake in the patent related profits, to the tune of over $500 million, via their research on the local chimps.

In 2006, after years of pressure from anti-animal testing groups like PETA, NYBC decided it was becoming too costly to continue with the unpopular research, so they closed this project's doors for good. Before doing so, they worked out a deal with Betsy Brotman, who directed the program, where they would relocate the chimps, and allow them to live out their lives in peace.

Under Ms. Brotman’s leadership, the New York Blood Center released the chimps onto six islands near Monrovia where they would be safe from human predators and where employees from the research facility who knew them, could provide them with lifelong care. “That’s what we agreed upon doing, and we did it,” said Brotman in the documentary... "The Real Planet of the Apes".

However, since then, NYBC has reneged on their $30,000/year commitment to help feed these chimps, and instead left the very creatures that made them millions of dollars, to die from dehydration and starvation on these small isolated islands. After decades of confinement, the chimpanzees do not have the skills to survive in the wild. They are completely reliant on humans for survival, but despite previously committing to the lifetime care of these animals, NYBC withdrew all funding for their care.

Chimps eating.jpg

Lucky for these chimps, longtime caretakers have taken it on to themselves to voluntarily care for them. They have been collecting and delivering food to these islands using what ever means they could find. What NYBC has done is a disgrace, and unfortunately has become all too common in the corporate world. But because something has become common place, doesn't make it right.

Watch the excellent short documentary below, "The Real Planet of the Apes. I would also urge you to get involved. At the very least sign the petition and let NYBC know that their treatment of these chimps is unacceptable.

https://www.change.org/p/new-york-blood-center-don-t-abandon-chimpanzees-for-whom-you-promised-to-provide-lifetime-care

Source of the story: http://theirturn.net/2015/05/28/new-york-blood-center-leaves-chimps-to-die

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