HSUS Affiliated Chimp Sanctuary Sues Former Carers

Project Chimps, a sanctuary for chimpanzees affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), is failing its mission to provide lifelong exemplary care to chimpanzees retired from medical research by providing inadequate veterinary care, limited enrichment, and prioritizing financial gain over chimpanzee welfare. At great risk to their own livelihoods and future careers, Crystal Alba and Lindsay Vanderhoogt exposed this maltreatment and declining quality of care to federal authorities, public policy advocates, and the press.

Crystal and Lindsay are now being sued by Project Chimps in retaliation for their complaints and as a transparent coverup attempt. The case is pending in Fannin County Superior Court, Case No. SUV2020000199. Crystal and Lindsay stand to lose everything if they cannot hire lawyers to defend their case.

At least 20 additional whistleblowers have attempted to expose maltreatment at Project Chimps, but for fear of the kind of action Project Chimps has taken against Crystal and Lindsay, many have chosen to remain anonymous. This lawsuit threatens to force Crystal and Lindsay to produce personal messages regarding Project Chimps, which could potentially expose the identities of other whistleblowers involuntarily. This ruling could potentially jeopardize the employment of current Project Chimps employees who have expressed concern privately but who are hoping to remain anonymous to keep their jobs at the sanctuary. 

We are asking for your help in raising money for legal counsel to assist Crystal and Lindsay in their fight to bring justice to the chimps. Crystal and Lindsay have identified counsel that they believe will strongly represent them as well as the best interest of the chimps, however, this will require paying hefty lawyer fees to represent them in court and subsequent hearings. Crystal and Lindsay are dedicated to fighting on behalf of the chimps – but they need your help. Without it, they will be unable to continue advocating for the chimps and may suffer personal losses that could impact them for the rest of their lives.

We are asking for your financial support now so that Crystal and Lindsay can secure their counsel AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Legal proceedings are currently in the works and Crystal and Lindsay are on a very short timeline to raise the funds necessary to secure counsel as Project Chimps filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order. We are asking that you please contribute whatever you can to help Crystal and Lindsay advocate for the chimpanzee residents at the Project Chimps sanctuary. 

Some Background and History:
Crystal Alba was an employee at Project Chimps for 3 years and was responsible for the beautiful photography that helped grow the sanctuary’s social media following. In addition to being the sanctuary photographer, Crystal was also a caregiver and vet assistant. Crystal tried many times to raise her concerns to the sanctuary's Board of Directors and leadership, but every attempt was ignored. Crystal was fired on March 31, 2020, for standing up for the chimps’ welfare and quality of life. This is all documented on the website she created, www.HelpTheChimps.org, which was designed to shed light on the current state of the sanctuary. Countless documents, photographs, videos, and other evidence are presented on the website exhibiting inadequate veterinary care, restricted enrichment, and crumbling infrastructure at the sanctuary. Crystal reported the same concerns to federal and other authorities.

Lindsay Vanderhoogt was a founding staff member of the sanctuary and during her employment was responsible for chimp care, managing Project Chimps social media accounts, and creating videos for social media content. Though she left Project Chimps for her own reasons in 2018, upon hearing about the declining welfare of the chimps and that Crystal had been fired for speaking up, Lindsay used her writing and social media skills to raise awareness of the status of the sanctuary and the inadequate medical care being provided to the chimps. 

After raising awareness about the issues taking place at the sanctuary via authorities, the website www.HelpTheChimps.org, the Instagram account @ChimpsDeserveBetter, and through multiple personal comments and posts, Project Chimps is now suing Crystal and Lindsay for exposing the current state of the sanctuary.

Crystal, Lindsay, as well as many others, are deeply concerned about the welfare of the chimps currently residing at the sanctuary. Many have complex medical conditions such as Hepatitis and liver disease due to their history in medical research. Project Chimps has done nothing to address these serious medical conditions and many chimps continue to have their medical conditions ignored and mistreated. Again, much of this is evidenced in the website, www.HelpTheChimps.org. The current veterinarian on staff at Project Chimps is a small animal vet who had no prior chimpanzee experience before joining the Project Chimps staff, let alone experience caring for chimps with complicated medical conditions such as liver disease and missing organs due to laboratory research.

Crystal and Lindsay hoped that by sharing the truth with the public that Project Chimps would feel public pressure and invest in hiring an experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable veterinarian who is competent in treating chimpanzees with complicated medical conditions. Instead, Project Chimps has invested tens of thousands of dollars in suing Crystal and Lindsay.

Due to this lawsuit, Crystal and Lindsay are being forced to put their lives on hold to fight Project Chimps’ claims against them. They desperately need your help in spreading the word and raising funds so they can be represented in court and continue to advocate for the health and wellbeing of the chimps at the sanctuary. Please contribute what you can and share this widely.

“After working in both veterinary and human medical environments for several years, I was excited to combine these skills to help the chimpanzees. As the vet assistant, I was the only staff member at the sanctuary to see every chimp every day. And as the sanctuary photographer, I had the unique experience of spending several hours a week watching the chimps. I got to know them all as individuals and became invested in their happiness and well-being. Watching the chimps’ general decline during my 3 years at Project Chimps was distressing, and I sought to help them through every possible internal channel before seeking outside help. I hope that I can continue to fight for them to get the care they were promised.” – Crystal Alba

“Working with the chimps and earning their friendship was the greatest honor of my life. I fell deeply in love with each individual and feel it is my responsibility to do whatever I can to ensure they receive the sanctuary life they were promised by Project Chimps. I am willing to do whatever I can to be a voice for them, even if it means fighting Project Chimps in court. All of this stress and worry will be worth it if it means the chimps can receive the high quality of care they deserve and can live long, happy, healthy, enriched, and fulfilling lives in true sanctuary.” – Lindsay Vanderhoogt

For GoFundMe

Who you are and where you’re from: My name is Lindsay Vanderhoogt and I'm from Atlanta, GA. My team member Crystal Alba is from Blue Ridge, GA. We are being sued by our former employer for speaking up on behalf of chimpanzee residents at the Project Chimps sanctuary. 

Your relationship or contact to the parties you're raising funds for: Crystal and I are raising funds in order to retain a lawyer to represent us in court since Project Chimps has filed a lawsuit against us. I, Lindsay Vanderhoogt, will be the beneficiary of the funds in order to pay the amount directly to our lawyer. 

How the funds will be spent: Once I withdraw our donated funds, the money will be sent directly to our lawyer so that we can retain counsel. Our lawyer is requiring a $10,000 retainer fee. Any funds raised above $10,000 will also be used to pay for our legal fees. 

Your withdrawal plan to get the funds from the fundraiser to the person that they're intended for: I will withdraw the funds and immediately transfer everything over to our lawyer. I can provide receipts and proof so that there is no question that all the money we raise will go directly towards its intended cause, to pay for our legal counsel.

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Fundraising team (2)

Lindsay Vanderhoogt 
Organizer
Raised $2,293 from 35 donations
Atlanta, GA
Crystal Alba 
Team member
Raised $9,335 from 65 donations
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