The Plight of the Liberian Island Science Monkeys

This is not a short story title, this is real.

The Liberian government had been working with the New York Blood Centre on biomedical research (primarily hepatitis), using 108 chimpanzees. NYBC, being a charity, continued to pay for the animals’ upkeep after they finished the research and set them free. Mind you, these animals were set free ten years ago. They’ve basically been taken care of by humans their whole lives.

Unfortunately there was a bit of a funding dispute with the New York organization. And so they..well.. from my understanding, it was like this.

NYBC: “We need more money.”

Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research: “Okay…? So do we. Everyone does.”

NYBC: “Yeah but we really don’t have enough, so we’re not going to take care of the chimps anymore.”

LIBR: You…but…what???”



As you can imagine, the animal rights activists were not happy. To them, the whole situation is nothing more than the NYBC’s attempt to “wipe its hands of any responsibility for this colony of chimpanzees that they created and used for their own profit” — (Kathleen Conlee, VP of animal research issues at the Humane Society of the United States). Their position focuses on the notion that the burden of caring for these chimps should not be put on the Liberian government. Activists have raised $150k as a stop-gap measure in support of the animals. Some of them live on islands in Farmington River, some were caught and used for testing, some had once been pets and can’t really function without humans.

According to the NYBC, the monkeys served to help develop a vaccine which would save millions of human lives. And they did. It appears that now, Liberia can deal with them. In a statement on their website, the centre claimed that their support was “entirely voluntary…to permit discussions regarding Liberia’s need to fulfill their responsibilities until the government of Liberia could take over.

NYBC: “You and I both know that this has been over for a very long time.”

Liberia: “No! We seriously did not know that!”

NYBC: “Just…take care of yourself okay?”



The situation is yet to be totally resolved. There are several petitions to save these science monkeys. The NYBC wants a decent solution as much as the Liberian Institute.

What parts of life can we even apply here? Is there a lesson? There honestly might not be. It’s just very…unique. It is yet another situation brought about in a world that is quite obviously run by humans. We own everything and we “take care” of everything and we create for ourselves these predicaments that pretentious college students get to blog about.

It’s definitely not every day you come across this sort of thing. When was the last time you heard of someone having a monkey, then suddenly not having the means to care for it, so they just abandoned it?


Oh, right.

But hey, we’re all human.


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