Consciousness Magazine Interview with Alison Eastwood

Consciousness Magazine Interview with Alison Eastwood
By Consciousness Magazine

Actress, film director and producer, Alison Eastwood, has recently teamed up with LoveAnimals.org to help retired chimpanzees from Biomedical Research. The chimpanzees will have a new home at Chimp Haven, a nonprofit organization that serves as the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary for federal owned chimps no longer involved in studies.

Outside of film, Alison Eastwood is the founder of Eastwood Ranch Foundation, an animal and rescue nonprofit that raises awareness for animal rights, as well as rescues cats and dogs from high-kill shelters in Southern California. Here is what Alison Eastwood had to share with the Consciousness Magazine readers.

CM: What captivated your interest of becoming an animal advocate and wanting to help care for the 110 chimpanzees used in animal research in which the federal government has surrendered to a sanctuary?
Alison: Animal testing is always a subject I’ve been drawn to. I’ve always found it to be a very sad and difficult subject and I’ve always taken the time to learn more about it. I have a soft spot for animals that have been tested upon and for animals that have unwillingly sacrificed their lives for people.  After getting to know the team at Chimp Haven and learning the story of these chimps and what they have been through, I wanted to do something to raise awareness of their plight.  I wanted to do something around animal testing as it is something I would like to help fight against.  So many people don’t think about it, it’s something always in the shadows, a subject that isn’t really discussed.   Launching a crowdfunding campaign was a good way for me to get my feet wet in this debate and do something to help these specific animals and also to get people thinking about whether there is an alternative way.  I really believe there could be other alternatives at this point.  As a society we are so technologically advanced - so why does this need to happen anymore? 

CM: How did you become involved with the organization Love Animals?
Alison: When I heard that these medical chimps were being retired from labs, I wondered, ‘how can I help?’  At the same time, I was introduced to the founder of Loveanimals.org.  I’d always thought crowdfunding campaigns were awesome so we all decided we’d get together to put out a campaign to help chimps.

CM: Many people are not aware of the fact that many carry infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C. What do you think needs to be done to educate the public about these situations?
Alison: Helping Chimp Haven supply food and toys and paying people to care for them and clean up after them is incredibly important, but ultimately I am hoping the campaign raises awareness and gets people thinking about the issue of animal testing.  I hope they go beyond just the donation level, I hope the campaign will not only help take care of these animals, but will bring awareness and thought as to the fact that this goes on every day.  Animal testing is happening all over the world and my campaign is a way for people to get more educated on the issue, and do a small action to help.  Many chimps still carry the diseases that they were exposed to as research subjects. Crystal, a beautiful female with dark black hair and white whiskers, was infected with HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Chimp Haven is the only sanctuary in the U.S. equipped to care for a large number of chimpanzees infected with HIV and hepatitis. There, expert staff ensures that Crystal receives her medications on time, delivered in her favorite food, peanut butter banana sandwiches.  Your readers are the key to making a difference and ensuring Chimp Haven can carry out this important work. http://www.loveanimals.org/wild/be-a-chimp-champion.html  

CM: How may one become involved in giving donations or helping these 110 chimpanzees in the sanctuary?
Alison: By participating in this campaign http://www.loveanimals.org/be-a-chimp-champion.html – even a donation of $2 makes a difference, and sharing the campaign on Facebook or Twitter helps too.  But beyond the campaign and its end date, there are ways to engage.  Readers can sign a petition, or even create their own petition.  Readers can raise the subject with friends and family or fellow animal lovers. I want people to start a conversation about it so it’s at the forefront of peoples mind.  People can make a donation to the campaign and feel good about it.  And they can take the next step and start a conversation and do their own research to learn more.  Get inspired and educated to open up the conversation beyond a single event so it becomes something ongoing so we can find a way, together, to eradicate it.

CM: What is the outcome that you would like to see for these chimpanzees?
Alison: These self-aware, social animals sacrificed so much for the benefit of humans. They deserve the best possible care during retirement, both physically and emotionally.  Giving a couple of bucks to support their care for the remainder of their lives is the least we can do. I can help spread the word, so I will. 

I hope people will identify with these chimps by seeing their personal stories and hearing what these chimps have been through.  I hope people will understand that it is about more than giving money to help with the present problem – the care of these 110 chimps and the release of the 200 still in captivity -- but also that people will think about this issue in the future.  How can we change things for the future?  I really hope it will get people thinking a little more about medical testing and animals.

CM: Can we expect any up-and-coming films from you highlighting chimpanzees or animals being displaced or moved to various sanctuaries?
Alison: No. All of my efforts around animal welfare and wildlife conservation are now happening through my work with my nonprofit Eastwood Ranch Foundation.  I wanted boots on the ground, physical efforts to help animals and felt that doing films about animals wasn’t enough.  I wanted to do more, which is why I set up my nonprofit.    

CM: You have a foundation called the Eastwood Ranch Foundation. What are some new and exciting things coming from this organization?
Alison: Besides current crowdfunding campaign for Chimp Haven, we are working on another exciting project.  We have just partnered with the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children in DC (the Center).  We are working on a campaign to promote the adoption of shelter dogs while protecting your home, children and and the new family member (pet).  We plan to launch the program at the start of 2015.  The Center is a huge national nonprofit, so we are really excited to partner in order to find a way to inspire families to adopt a shelter pet to help teach responsibility and unconditional love - while at the same time ensuring your home is protected.

CM: Would you like to add anything that we haven’t covered before we close the interview?
Alison: I try to do something to help animals every day.  A lot of people believe that they have to do something big, give lots of time or money to make a difference. But the reality is that the littlest thing can help.  Doing something little every day makes a huge difference – sharing a post about rescued animals on social media, calling the local shelter and giving cleaning supplies or towels.   Those actions matter. 

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