Animal Rights Activists Protest HSUS Board Member Brad Jakeman Over Animal Cruelty at Project Chimps and Lawsuit Against Whistleblowers
Litigation - Article Series from Articles Archive

July 2020

Despite meticulous documentation of inadequate care for and abuse to Chimps, HSUS continues to assert that Crystal and Lindsay are simply “disgruntled employees.”

[UPDATE August 17 from Good news. The Humane Society of the United States's chimpanzee sanctuary, Project Chimps, has dropped its outrageous defamation lawsuit against whistleblowers who came forward with extensive evidence of animal cruelty, but our campaign will not end until independent chimpanzee experts assure us that the chimps, who live in concrete enclosures for all but 10 hours a week, are being treated humanely. The whistleblowers, who had nothing to gain personally by exposing the cruelty, can - and will - continue to advocate for the chimps. As an aside, animal protection groups like HSUS should support whistleblowers, not intimidate, silence and potentially bankrupt them with frivolous lawsuits.]

Project Chimps
At HSUS’s chimpanzee sanctuary, Project Chimps, the chimpanzees spend all but 10 hours a week in concrete enclosures

On July 25th, animal rights activists staged a protest in front of a clothing store in Sag Harbor, New York that is co-owned by a member of the Board of Directors of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The protesters demanded that the board member, Brad Jakeman, and his colleagues drop the lawsuit filed against two chimpanzee caregivers who blew the whistle about animal abuse at Project Chimps, HSUS’s chimpanzee sanctuary in Georgia.

While still employed by Project Chimps as an animal caregiver, Crystal Alba, one of the whistleblowers who HSUS is suing, meticulously documented inexcusably poor veterinary care, infrequent access to the outdoors, overcrowding, rushed introductions, a lack of sufficient enrichment when the chimps are confined to their concrete enclosures and other forms of neglect and deprivation. When Crystal’s efforts to effect change from within the organization failed, she and the second whistleblower, Lindsay Vanderhoogt, posted documentation of these abuses on

In February, 2020, Crystal contacted the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) to ask for an inspection. In spite of the financial ties between GFAS and HSUS, GFAS made multiple animal care recommendations that echoed those of the whistleblowers and validated their allegations of animal mistreatment. Nevertheless, HSUS continues to assert that Crystal and Lindsay are simply “disgruntled employees” who fabricated the allegations, and it continues to attempt to intimidate and silence them through a defamation lawsuit.

Project Chimps, an HSUS chimpanzee sanctuary in Georgia, is suing former chimpanzee caregivers Crystal Alba and Lindsay Vanderhoogt after they came forward publicly with evidence of animal cruelty.

On July 9th, National Geographic published an in depth, investigative story about the animal cruelty allegations and the lawsuit against the whistleblowers. While it includes statements from both sides, the story paints a grim and disturbing picture of animal welfare that corroborates the allegations of the whistleblowers.

National Geographic

Activists staged the protest against Brad Jakeman only after he ignored their efforts to talk to him. In addition to sending Mr. Jakeman emails, activists hand delivered a letter to his store several weeks before the protest. Organizers will continue protesting Mr. Jakeman’s store, Ryland Life Equipment (which, as an aside, sells leather, wool, cashmere and suede), until the Humane Society of the United States drops the lawsuit against the whistleblowers and demonstrates that it is improving the welfare of the chimps.

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