The controversy over Project Chimps, a facility controlled by the Humane Society of the United States that has come under fire for its treatment of resident chimpanzees, isn’t going away.
A new billboard near Project Chimps, based in north Georgia, asks: “Sanctuary or Warehouse?”
It’s a good question. Last year, a group of whistleblowers came forward with allegations that the animals at Project Chimps aren’t living their best lives, to put it mildly.
Among other things, the whistleblowers alleged inadequate outdoor access, inadequate medical attention, and inadequate veterinary staff.
These are particularly stunning claims given the Humane Society of the United States, which controls Project Chimps, has tens of millions of dollars sitting in Caribbean accounts, according to its tax filings. HSUS CEO Kitty Block made nearly $450,000 in 2020.
The whistleblowers set up HelpTheChimps.org to document their claims and push for changes at Project Chimps. (The .com version was purchased by Project Chimps executive director Ali Crumpacker–who has an HSUS.org email domain–and redirects to the PC website.)
Critics also note that Project Chimps has amenities for people–such as hiking trails and wedding accommodations–yet its facilities are lacking for the non-humans.
Additionally, the problems at Project Chimps have delayed more retired chimpanzees from moving there.
The New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana, which used chimps to develop advances in fighting diseases such as hepatitis C, agreed in 2016 to move retired chimpanzees to Project Chimps. But the Center’s director told activists that additional animals would not be moved to Project Chimps until the facility addresses space issues.
To animal activists, it’s quite something to realize a laboratory you’ve been fighting against for years is a better steward of animals than a supposed sanctuary run by an animal rights group.
Change can’t happen overnight, but it’s been more than a year. In that time, we’ve seen lots of corporate PR-speak from HSUS and Project Chimps. Action has seemed lacking.