SUMMIT, NJ - For the second time in three months, animal rights advocates gathered at the house of MetLife Chief Executive Officer Steven Kandarian on Sunday afternoon to protest MetLife’s support of the New York Blood Center (NYBC).
Organizer Donny Moss, who was joined by about 40 other protesters, said that the purpose of the demonstration was to compel MetLife to demand that the NYBC reinstate funding for a group of chimpanzees in Liberia that were research subjects. Moss said that MetLife is the NYBC’s largest corporate donor.
“We will continue to come back over and over to both [Kandarian’s] home and the home of other executives until they either get the blood center to reinstate funding for the chimps or at the very least release a public statement condemning them and cutting their funding,” said Moss.
Before marching to Kandarian’s home, the protesters assembled at the local Starbucks. The Summit police were present and followed the demonstrators throughout the two-and-a-half hour event.
Several protesters carried signs that featured the slogan “silence is death” along with side-by-side photos of the MetLife CEO and a young chimpanzee. Along with the posters, the demonstrators carried drums, whistles, and bullhorns. Their chants included “depriving chimps of food and water...MetLife is causing animal slaughter” and “can’t you hear their cries MetLife...your silence causes so much strife.”
Throughout the demonstration, protesters approached Summit residents in their cars or in outdoor cafes to hand out flyers. Although most residents were willing to take a flyer, a few appeared annoyed by the disturbance. In fact, an employee at Pizza Vita had to ask the demonstrators to leave because they were interrupting their customers’ dinner.
Moss said that MetLife has not responded to any of his protests or attempts to contact the company.
The NYBC, meanwhile, posted its explanation for ending the chimpanzee’s funding on its website.
The website states that the NYBC “cares deeply” about the welfare of the chimpanzees and that they raised significant funds for them for many years even after their “obligation there had ended.” However, the NYBC could not continue to “divert millions of dollars away from our lifesaving mission of providing patients with critically needed blood products.”
After the NYBC stopped the funding, the Humane Society of the U.S. took up a collection from the public to help support the chimpanzees, who are now being fed daily. According to Moss, this collection has raised about $300,000.