ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Fresh start for Liberian chimpanzees used for medical tests

MONROVIA - Every morning, U.S. conservationist Jenny Desmond leaves Liberia's mainland on a boat loaded with fruit and vegetables on a four-hour journey to islands inhabited only by a colony of 66 chimpanzees. As the boat approaches Island Number...

 

MONROVIA - Every morning, U.S. conservationist Jenny Desmond leaves Liberia's mainland on a boat loaded with fruit and vegetables on a four-hour journey to islands inhabited only by a colony of 66 chimpanzees.

As the boat approaches Island Number One, those closest come running to the shore making sounds of greeting. The animals are healthy but their story is tragic: for years they were used for medical experiments. Then they were left without food.

"The first day we went in the boat they were still fearful and screaming, desperate to be fed. I was brought to tears," said Desmond. She and her husband Jim Desmond have rescued animals in other countries and moved to Liberia from Kenya.

It's a story that raises uncomfortable questions about human responsibility for animals once medical experiments are finished: the troubles of the chimpanzees pale beside those facing Liberia, recovering from an Ebola epidemic that killed more than 4,800 people and set back Liberia's revival after one of West Africa's most bitter civil wars.

ADVERTISEMENT

The New York Blood Center (NYBC) said on its website it conducted the tests on the chimps more than a decade ago, with Liberia's consent, to help develop a low-cost vaccine for Hepatitis B that has since saved millions of lives.

It stopped animal testing in 2004 and its relationship with the Liberian Institute of Biomedical Research (LIBR) ended three years later, it said, adding that Liberia owns the animals.

Related Topics: HEALTH
What To Read Next
Grant funds up to $75,000 are available through the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.
The bill would authorize the demolition of five buildings on the campus.
Testimony to the top House committee from a convicted attendee of the Jan. 6 rally focused on the "inhumane" treatment of Jan. 6 defendants. The committee rejected a resolution on the matter 12-0.