Filed under: Chimpanzee Welfare
by L. Docherty
Today the NIH has announced that it will formally retire more than one hundred federally owned chimpanzees. The NIH animals are housed at the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) in Lafayette, and are to be transferred to the Chimp Haven sanctuary in Keithville, La., over the next 12-15 months. “These animals have made important contributions to research to improve human health, but new technologies have reduced the need for their continued use in research,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “We are grateful to all of the organizations that have pulled together to help us transition these animals into formal retirement.”
This is great news for these chimpanzees and the organisations who have been fighting for them to be retired; they will finally be able to enjoy 200 acres of pristine forest. Chimp Haven’s facility includes an interconnected network of bedrooms, outdoor courtyard and play yards, and large, forested habitats up to five acres.
Many animal protection organisations have offer to pledge their support such as The New England Antivivisection Society, the first to step up with a pledge of $100,000. The Humane Society of the United States has pledged $500,000 to the campaign. The National Anti-Vivisection Society has continued its generous support of Chimp Haven with a grant of $25,000 to provide housing and care for the chimpanzees. Also, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health today announced a fund raising campaign for construction for Chimp Haven to expand its facilities.
“This is a historic day for research chimpanzees in the United States,” says Brent. “We look forward to continued cooperation between the NIH, Chimp Haven and animal protection organizations so that we may retire many more chimpanzees in the future.” http://www.chimphaven.org.
Although this is a great day for these lab chimpanzees please don’t forget about the 500 chimpanzees that still remain in laboratories enduring painful procedures every day of their lives. We must speak out for them or they will have no voice and no choices.
Please contact your local senator to ask them to co-sponsor the the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (need to be a US resident)?
Here is a letter template:
As a resident of ______ I am appealing to you to please co-sponsor the S. 810, the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings act.
The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings act prohibits:
(1) conducting invasive research on great apes;
(2) possessing, maintaining, or housing a great ape for the purpose of conducting invasive research;
(3) using federal funds to conduct such research on a great ape or to support an entity conducting or facilitating invasive research on a great ape either within or outside of the United States;
(4) knowingly breeding a great ape for the purpose of conducting or facilitating such research;
(5) transporting, moving, delivering receiving, leasing, renting, donating, purchasing, selling, or borrowing a great ape in interstate or foreign commerce for conducting or facilitating such research; and
(6) transferring federal ownership of a great ape to a non-federal entity unless the entity is a suitable sanctuary.
It is clear that chimpanzee research is now redundant for the following reasons:
1. Chimpanzee research has made minimum contribution to the advancement of biomedical knowledge. As early as in 2007 and 2008 Andrew Knight through his in depth literature reviews concluded that biomedical research on chimpanzees provided minimal contribution toward the advancement of biomedical knowledge generally, but on the other hand in vitro studies, human clinical and epidemiological studies, molecular assays and methods, and genomic studies contributed most to their development. (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10888700701555501?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3dpubmed& and http://www.peh-med.com/content/3/1/16)
2. Chimpanzees are not a relevant model for Aids, HCV research or cancer. J. Bailey in his Dec 2010 and 2011 articles concluded that claims of past necessity of chimpanzee use were exaggerated, and that claims of current and future indispensability were unjustifiable. In addition, he also states that the genetic similarity that exists between humans and chimpanzees does not result in sufficient physiological similarity for the chimpanzee to constitute a good model for research, and furthermore, that chimpanzee data do not translate well to progress in clinical practice for humans. According to Bailey leading examples include the minimal citations of chimpanzee research that is relevant to human medicine, the highly different pathology of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C virus infection in the two species, the lack of correlation in the efficacy of vaccines and treatments between chimpanzees and humans, and the fact that chimpanzees are not useful for research on human cancer. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21275471 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22243397.
3. The suffering endured by chimpanzees is just too high to justify using chimpanzees for research.
The suffering endured by laboratory chimpanzees through years of confinement and endless knockdowns have been scientifically documented and is obvious for those who care for ex-lab chimps in sanctuaries throughout the U.S. It is well known that chimpanzees recently retired from U. S. laboratories exhibit gross stereotypies (repetitive, behaviours) indicating psychological distress that is both profound and chronic. Other behavioural abnormalities include self-mutilation, inappropriate aggression, fear withdrawal, and mood and anxiety disorders including post-traumatic stress disorders. (see full text article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116818/)
4. Aging populations of chimpanzees are not good subjects for experimental research?
The October 2012 journal Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (ATLA), Volume 40, Issue 5 (in press) compiles data from 110 autopsies performed in the last 10 years on chimpanzees who died in or were from laboratories. It shows a full 64% of those chimpanzees suffered significant chronic illnesses and 69% had multi-organ diseases that should have rendered them too sick for research use. Yet, despite this knowledge on the part of the laboratories, many of these chimpanzees were held in labs for research despite their poor health and unsuitability for use.
5. Ending chimpanzee experimentation will speed up medical progress rather than hinder them.
Ending the use of chimpanzees in medical research will speed up progress because scientists will be forced to explore new improved methodologies instead of relying on what is familiar but not necessarily better. It will also weed out the scientists who are NOT willing to change their narrow minded ways.
Chimpanzees currently living in laboratories have suffered every day of their lives and it’s now time that they are permanently retired to a North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) approved sanctuary and that the financial support that is currently available for federally owned chimpanzees is transferable to the sanctuaries taking care of these animals for the rest of their lives.
Many thanks in advance for reviewing my letter and I hope you will consider co-sponsoring this very important act that will make such a huge difference to the lives of these intelligent and sentient individuals.
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