SUMMIT, NJ - A group of 16 animal rights activists, from both New Jersey and New York, gathered outside the Summit residence of MetLife, Inc. Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer Steven Kandarian on Lenox Road May 10, protesting the company's support of the New York Blood Center (NYBC), and that establishment's abandonment of more than five dozen chimpanzees -- previously used for research -- on islands in Liberia.
The group, known as Their Turn, also marched through downtown Summit, speaking to people at outdoor cafes and to those who exited retail establishments. According to the protestors, "a lot of people had questions, several said they were familiar with the issue, and a few said that they know Mr. Kandarian."
MetLife is the largest corporate donor of the NYBC, which, according to a New York Times article published in May of 2015, left the 66 chimpanzees on Iberian islands in with little to no food or water, potentially leaving them to starve to death.
The NYBC, on its website, has stated its position on the situation saying, in part, "NYBC attempted for years to find a solution for the care, maintenance and feeding of these animals. We held discussions with numerous animal welfare groups and the Government of Liberia, all to no avail. The Government of Liberia and animal rights organizations knew all along that our support was voluntary and would not continue. Last January, we gave the Liberians several months' notice that we would no longer provide this voluntary charitable support and expected they would manage a smooth transition."
While other NYBC supporters, such as Citigroup, have addressed the Their Turn's concerns -- Citigroup made a $50,000 donation toward the care of the chimps -- MetLife has not yet responded to group's call for action.
After an earlier protest in at Met Life's New York City headquarters resulted in no action by the company, Their Turn member Donny Moss said, "We came to the conclusion that we had to do something else to get the company’s attention. That is what led us to stage our first protest at Mr. Kandarian’s home."
In addition, Moss penned a personal plea to Kandarian asking "not for your money, but for mercy."
On its website, MetLife states that, "For 147 years – long before the term ‘corporate responsibility’ was coined – MetLife has operated as a good corporate citizen. Building on our long legacy of excellence, we are committed to ensuring a future in which we can continue helping people, families and communities around the world expand tomorrow’s possibilities."
Also noted are myriad awards and recognitions the company has received relative to corporate responsibility, including being named to the "100 Best Corporate Citizens 2015" list by Corporate Responsibility Magazine.
The website further includes a Global Impact 2014 Corporate Responsibility Progress Report, which includes a "Message From The CEO,' signed by Kandarian, that includes a section on "Protecting the environment for future generations." In it, Kandarian states, "As a company whose business model is built upon long-term planning, we take a long-term view with regard to environmental stewardship."
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