People ask, “How do you do it? How do you face the realities of animal research given the steep hills in the battles to end it?” Quite a question, especially because of the urgency that comes with animal suffering. What makes NEAVS’ work so difficult? Well, for one, the seeming impossibility to bring rightful legal action on behalf of the animals we serve.
In this issue you’ll learn more about our campaign to prevent seven chimpanzees from being exported to an unaccredited U.K. zoo and the broader issue surrounding it. You’ll learn how, while the merits of our case could not have been stronger, and were recognized by the judge as valid, she did not rule in our favor. Why? Because she did not think we met the high bar set for humans to have standing on behalf of animals. Without standing, ‘case closed’—despite its merits. And so, the gnawing reality, we won, but lost.
Our campaign, which filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for issuing an export permit contrary to the U.S. Endangered Species Act to Emory’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, contains the crux of the answer to “how do you do it?”
This battle cost NEAVS thousands in legal fees, the focus of full-time staff, and frustrations that accompany looking Goliath in the eye—in this case a two-headed giant: FWS and Yerkes Research Center at Emory University. It takes courage, skillful lawyering, and passion to take on the ‘big guys.’
Animal protection organizations have to be willing to take it on, without backing down to pressure—from external politics or from those within the house of animal protection itself. We must be willing to stand alone. When we do, others line up (some privately) in a coalition of support.
It can be no other way. To do right by animals demands, at times, cooperation, compromise, or confrontation.
So, my answer to the question, “How do you do it?” is simple— money, guts, and making certain neither ever runs out.
I think Abby (rest in peace), Georgia, and the others are glad we stood firm. Glad we fought for them. And, I’m glad knowing that in working for them, we were working for every endangered species everywhere and all captive chimpanzees. And given the ruling, though it did not keep the Yerkes 7 in the U.S., the next battle fought to end FWS’s mismanagement of endangered species will have one more strong leg to stand on.
For the animals,
Theodora Capaldo, EdD