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Project Chimps, or Project Screw-the-Chimps?

People are typically shocked to find out that the Humane Society of the United States, despite its name, does not run any pet shelters and gives almost none of the money it raises to local pet shelters.

Given the operations at Project Chimps, a supposed sanctuary controlled and funded by HSUS, perhaps it’s for the best that HSUS doesn’t run any pet shelters.

Last year a group of whistleblowers, led by two women who had worked and volunteered at the facility, went public with allegations the chimpanzees were not receiving proper care or living conditions. They documented their claims at HelpTheChimps.org.

The response from HSUS and Project Chimps has been disheartening, to say the least.

First, there was HSUS’s public corporate-speak aimed at distancing itself from Project Chimps–even though the group is literally controlled by HSUS.

Then there was Project Chimps filing a lawsuit against the two whistleblowers. (The lawsuit was later dropped.)

The latest? It appears that Project Chimps has failed to expand its chimp habitat despite previously announced plans to do so.

Their Turn, an animal rights site critical of Project Chimps, has surfaced documents showing that Project Chimps was supposed to expand habitats for the chimpanzees starting in 2019–but hasn’t.

As Their Turn states:

HSUS was supposed to have created three additional habitats (A, B and C) by 2021, but it hasn’t created any. As a result, the 82 chimps rotate into the one habitat just once every three days for part of the day. … 

Project Chimps sits on 236 forested acres. Only six of them (2.5%), however, serve as outdoor space for the chimps. This outdoor area, referred to as the “habitat,” is divided into two yards, each of which can accommodate one group of chimps at a time. With six chimpanzee groups sharing two yards, each group has access to the habitat just once every three days (for four to six hours). The chimpanzees spend the rest of the time in covered, concrete rooms that have one or two open-air walls with metal bars. Because Project Chimps describes these concrete and metal enclosures as “outdoor porches,” the public is led to believe that the chimpanzees spend seven days a week outside in a natural setting.

Keep in mind that HSUS, which controls Project Chimps, brings in over $100 million each year.  If the animals were truly the priority, HSUS and Project Chimps would have gotten these changes made by now.

Instead, HSUS wastes about half of its budget on overhead costs, according to CharityWatch, which gives HSUS a “D” grade in its newest rating guide.

What’s the lesson? If you want to help animals–pets or otherwise–avoid the Humane Society of the United States this holiday season, and find a reputable group. Your local humane society likely fits the bill.