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Nonhuman Rights Project Chimpanzee Clients Hercules and Leo to Be Sent to Sanctuary

By Lauren Choplin

The Nonhuman Rights Project issued the following press release today:

Nonhuman Rights Project Chimpanzee Clients Hercules and Leo to Be Sent to Sanctuary

Following litigation brought on behalf of Hercules and Leo and a campaign to win their freedom, they will finally get a chance to live something like a natural life

May 3, 2016 – New York, NY – Today the University of Louisiana’s New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) announced it would send to the new Project Chimps sanctuary not only the two chimpanzees whose freedom the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) has been fighting to secure for over two years, but also the 218 other chimpanzees who remain in captivity at the facility.

“After allowing Hercules and Leo to be tortured for six years, after removing them from the State of New York in the middle of the night to try to destroy the jurisdiction the New York courts have over the NhRP’s pending appeal, and after negotiating in bad faith with the NhRP and Save the Chimps for more than six months over sending the pair to Save the Chimps, the New Iberia Research Center finally made a decision that is in the best interests of Hercules, Leo, and the numerous other self-aware and autonomous chimpanzees they have been exploiting for years,” NhRP President Steven M. Wise said of the planned move.

According to a “Retired Chimps FAQ” posted on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette University Research website, it will take as long as three to five years to move all 220 chimpanzees to Project Chimps in Blue Ridge, Georgia, with the first group set to move this summer. The NhRP will monitor the situation to ensure that Hercules’ and Leo’s release to sanctuary proceeds as expeditiously as possible, while increasing the pressure on the University of Louisiana to send Hercules and Leo to sanctuary immediately, especially considering that the NIRC has been prosecuted and fined numerous times for Animal Welfare Act violations by the USDA.

“The NhRP intends to do everything possible to ensure that humans and human institutions are never again able to imprison and exploit self-aware and autonomous beings like Hercules and Leo,” said Wise.

The NIRC appears to have begun the process of moving its chimpanzees to sanctuary in the months after the NhRP first filed suit on behalf of Hercules and Leo in December of 2013, six years after the NIRC sent the pair to Stony Brook University in New York to be used in experiments that involved inserting fine-wire electrodes into their muscles and routinely subjecting them to general anesthesia.

“This long overdue move by the NIRC is a significant milestone in our long-term campaign to change the legal status of nonhuman animals,” said Wise. “We’re thrilled these chimpanzees will have their bodily liberty and integrity returned to them at Project Chimps.”

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