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Call to Action: Send Hercules and Leo to Save the Chimps NOW

By Lauren Choplin


The future of captive chimpanzees Hercules and Leo is now uncertain: it may be years before they find sanctuary.

Their well-being is at stake.

That is why the Nonhuman Rights Project is calling on all Hercules and Leo supporters to demand their immediate and unconditional release from the New Iberia Research Center to Save the Chimps sanctuary.

In May¬†of 2016, the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC)‚ÄĒHercules’ and Leo’s “owner”‚ÄĒannounced that it would send Hercules, Leo, and 218 other chimpanzees to the newly created, not yet operational Project Chimps sanctuary in Fannin County, Georgia. At that time, we commended NIRC for finally making a decision that seemed to be in Hercules’ and Leo’s best interests‚ÄĒwhich were not served by the six years NIRC “loaned” them to Stony Brook University for use in locomotion research. During this time, they were deprived of anything resembling a natural life or a community of other chimpanzees, while being forced to undergo frequent¬†administrations of general anesthesia.

But even now, those who have the power to allow Hercules and Leo to begin lives in a sanctuary are not acting in Hercules’ and Leo’s best interests.

As NhRP President Steven M. Wise writes in this letter to NhRP supporters, unfortunately, and surprisingly, Project Chimps has joined NIRC in refusing to allow Hercules and Leo to be removed to Save the Chimps.

This is despite the fact that, by NIRC’s and Project Chimps’ own estimation, it will take three to five years for Project Chimps to be in a position to care for all 220 chimpanzees living in captivity at NIRC. No one will say when Hercules and Leo will be moved.

And, as the NhRP has just learned, even this unacceptable timeline has now been thrown into question because of new and existing obstacles to Project Chimps receiving a permit to operate in Fannin County, as Fetch Your News reported last week.

We look forward to the day when Project Chimps will be able to receive their first chimpanzee residents. But it’s unclear when, or if, that day will come.

On the other hand, for a year, Save the Chimps has been willing, and remains willing, to care for and maintain Hercules and Leo for the rest of their lives¬†at no cost to any third party. Until Hercules and Leo are moved to a sanctuary, they’ll continue to live their lives at NIRC, which has been the subject of numerous federal complaints over the years alleging poor conditions and primate care.

Please read¬†Steve’s letter and call and/or write to:

  • The¬†Office of Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards
    • (225) 342-0991 or (844) 860-1413 for Louisiana residents
    • (225) 342-7015 or (866) 366-1121 for non-Louisiana residents
    • Send an email via¬†this link¬†(non-Louisiana residents, please write “N/A” in the Parish of Residence field)
    • Note: Because of serious flooding in Louisiana, we are asking our supporters to hold off for now on calling the Governor’s Office.
  • University System President Joseph Savoie
    • ¬†(225) 342-6950 or (337) 482-1000

and urge them to support the immediate and unconditional release of Hercules and Leo to Save the Chimps.

This is¬†your chance¬†to tell those who have the power to¬†#SaveHerculesandLeo¬†that it’s time for their well-being to come first.¬†This means moving them to sanctuary now, especially when they have¬†a home waiting for them at a¬†place¬†like Save the Chimps where their bodily liberty and bodily integrity will finally be respected.

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