In March, a group of whistleblowers went public with their concerns about the mistreatment of chimpanzees at Project Chimps, a Georgia facility that is controlled by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Posting video and pictures, they painted a picture of a facility that was failing the animals that rely on it. They were far more transparent in their claims than HSUS has been in its own undercover campaigns. You can see everything at www.HelpTheChimps.org.
Now, Project Chimps has filed a lawsuit against the two whistleblowers who have been public faces for the larger group, who may have (correctly) feared retaliation from a wealthy, entrenched management.
The suit alleges that the whistleblowers defamed Project Chimps with their allegations and violated a nondisclosure agreement. (Readers may recall that Harvey Weinstein used nondisclosure agreements to keep his victims quiet.)
Yet, by HSUS’s own admission, some of what the whistleblowers allege appears to have been vindicated.
We infer this because HSUS issued a public statement on the allegations that acknowledges a number of changes being made at Project Chimps. Among the changes include the hiring of a second veterinarian, with primate expertise. The whistleblowers had alleged that the vet being used wasn’t qualified.
HSUS also claims that the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) will still accredit Project Chimps after an investigation. We wouldn’t assign this decision much credibility. As we wrote nearly 10 years ago, GFAS has very close ties to HSUS and therefore has a major conflict of interest when it comes to HSUS.
The same statement also shows HSUS trying to distance itself from the situation by deceptively calling Project Chimps an “independent sanctuary.” Yet Project Chimps is a controlled entity of HSUS, according to formal tax documents filed by HSUS. A majority of PC’s board is HSUS board or staff, and a large portion of PC’s funding comes from HSUS.
This is an example of a wealthy organization trying to muscle two young women who had the guts to speak out publicly. The legal reality is this: HSUS has millions of dollars and many high-priced lawyers at its disposal, while the two young whistleblowers are relying on a GoFundMe for their legal expenses.
HSUS has claimed its mission is to speak out for those who have no voice–the animals. Now that donations are at stake, its surrogates are trying to silence advocates for the voiceless.