APE NEWS!


A shocking tale of kidnap and murder
January 3, 2014, 6:39 pm
Filed under: Chimpanzee Welfare, Chimps in entertainment | Tags: , ,
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A recent photo of Linda living in a private home. Photo credit: Mona Foundation.

Linda is now in her thirties but she has already witnessed the sickening murder of her family; she was kidnapped and then illegally trafficked from her home in Africa. Linda is a female chimpanzee who has endured a life of confinement and living in unnatural conditions, just so that  she can be kept as a pet living in a private home.

Wild female chimpanzee with her baby. Photo credit: Jane Goodall Institute.

Wild female chimpanzee with her baby. Photo credit: Jane Goodall Institute.

Infant chimpanzees live very closely with their mothers, clinging to her body when travelling long distances to search for food, sharing her nest at night and suckling until at least three years old.  As you can imagine, mother and child bonds are very strong. Family bonds are also very strong and infants are cherished by the family.  Chimpanzee’s bodies and minds are highly adapted to live in the forest, to forage for a wide variety of foods including fruits, leaves, blossoms, seeds, pith, park, insects and even monkeys and small deer.

linda06 copy

Linda as an infant. Photo credit: Mona Foundation.

In order for a chimpanzee to become a pet, a series of sad and unforgivable events must take place. The baby chimp is stolen from the mother; she will not give up her child easily so she is usually shot; her family including the alpha male rush to help her and the baby and they are shot too. Up to 10 chimpanzees may be shot on that day. The traumatized baby is then taken and trafficked very long distances in a small crate with little food or water. Normally only one in ten chimps will survive this cruelty.

Linda being used as a photographer's prop.

Linda being used as a photographer’s prop. Photo credit: Mona Foundation.

The baby is then forced into a life unsuitable to the needs of a very active and very intelligent individual. Often forced to wear human clothes and given a human diet which is not suitable for the chimpanzee. This results in serious psychological and physiological problems, many irreversible. Baby chimpanzees are often seen rocking uncontrollably as a result of maternal deprivation.

Linda living as a pet.

Linda living as a pet. Photo credit: Mona Foundation.

These chimpanzees are suffering because they are not living the life that they have evolved to live.  Young infant chimps are viewed as cute and cuddly but they can be unpredictable and dangerous. When they reach adolescence around 7 years old, they get much stronger and become difficult to handle. The chimpanzee inevitable ends up locked up in tiny cage to languish there for the rest of its life, unless an organization steps in.   The Mona sanctuary in Spain have agreed to rescue Linda, where she will then begin the slow process of rehabilitation and integration into her new chimp family. She will learn how to live like a chimpanzee, making her own choices daily and she will live the rest of her life free from exploitation and suffering.  If you will like to donate to help with the rescue and rehabilitation of Linda please check out http://www.justgiving.com/help-us-rescue-linda



The end is near for chimpanzee research.
April 2, 2013, 3:22 am
Filed under: Chimpanzee Welfare | Tags: , , ,
Howard from New Mexico

Howard in 2002 at New Mexico facility (photo credit: save the chimps)

by Lorraine Docherty

Primate welfare organizations are anxiously waiting for Dr. Frances Collin’s (the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)) decision regarding the fate of some 451 federally owned chimpanzees currently house in laboratories across the US and a suggested reserve of 50 chimpanzees that could be called upon to be used in invasive research should the need arise.

In January this year, the working Group on the use of chimpanzees in NIH-Supported Research, released proposals for how the NIH should implement the IOM report, they  also said that the agency should end six of the nine invasive studies that it funds. And the other three would be allowed to continue only if the animals’ environments are substantially improved, probably at great expense. Public comments have now been received in response to the working group recommendations and we expect to hear an announcement from Dr. Collins in the next few weeks.

Should Dr. Collins accept the working group recommendations, this will be a huge milestone overcome in animal-research practice and policy, and confirmation of something that chimpanzee welfare experts have known, for some time, that chimpanzees are not necessary for medical research and their use in research is therefore unjustified and unethical.

Although huge steps have been taken to end chimpanzee experimentation and I commend the NIH for moving forward on this issue. There are still major questions about what will happen to these ex-laboratory chimpanzees? Major issues that need to be addressed are: (1) Who will fund the retirement of these chimpanzees? It costs around $20,000 per year per chimpanzee to house them at a sanctuary which means that it could cost an estimated 9 million dollars per year to house these federally owned chimpanzees and  (2) Are there enough accredited sanctuaries in the US with the necessary facilities to house infected individuals because it would be inappropriate to keep these chimpanzees in laboratory facilites and (3) What is going to happen to the 100 or so privately owned chimpanzees currently held in other laboratories and still being subjected to invasive research?



NIH Working Group Concluded that the majority of federally owned chimpanzees will be retired!!!
January 23, 2013, 4:08 am
Filed under: Chimpanzee Welfare

chimps-research-102212

Today has been a great day for the majority of chimpanzees suffering in research laboratories: the NIH working group has submitted it’s report regarding the use of chimpanzees in NIH-supported Research.  According to the report, the majority of NIH owned chimpanzees will be retired and transferred to the federal sanctuary system. Planning will start immediately to expand current facilities to accommodate these chimpanzees. The NIH also concluded that the federal sanctuary system is the most species-appropriate environment currently available and thus is the preferred environment for long-term housing of chimpanzees no longer required for research.

Although one major disappointment for most animal welfare groups who want chimpanzee experimentation ended completely is the NIH’s plan to maintain a small population of approx. 50 chimpanzees for future potential research that meets the IOM principles and criteria.

There is going to be a public comment area where you can give your opinion and this will last from January 23rd until March 23rd so please tell the NIH to retire all chimpanzees used in research. It’s the only truely ethical option. I will post the link for public comments as soon as it is live tomorrow.

See http://dpcpsi.nih.gov/council/pdf/FNL_Report_WG_Chimpanzees.pdf for full report.



Two case studies highlighting unnecessary chimpanzee suffering: Flo and Nicole’s stories
December 29, 2012, 2:05 am
Filed under: Chimpanzee Welfare

by L. Docherty

Flo

Flo

At 55 years old Flo is the oldest chimpanzee at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico.  She was captured in the wild and torn from her family to face a life of constant “knock downs”, pain and isolation.  She  was used as a breeder and over a ten year span she gave birth to three babies who were taken from her and taken to the nursery. In the wild, young chimpanzees stay with their mothers until at least 7 years old. Shamefully during the forty years she endured in medical research, she was subjected to  113 knock downs and used in hepatitis, polio and cancer studies (source medical report from APNM).

Nicole

Nicoleincage-takenin1980s copy

Nicole is 29 years old and was born in the laboratory. She was taken away from her mother straight away, never having the chance to bond with her. During her 25 years of being used in medical research she was subjected to 45 knock downs, 97 bleeds and 21 liver biopsies (source medical report from APNM).

It’s not too late. Please contact your local senator and urge them to to pass the S.810, the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, before this 112th Congressional session ends, so that no more chimpanzees need go through this ever again.



Federally owned chimpanzees at the NIRC to be formally retired!!!
December 19, 2012, 2:19 am
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:

Click here to find your senators:

Dear Senator____,

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.

Best regards,
__________



Scientific evidence clearly shows that chimpanzee research is unnecessary.
November 17, 2012, 4:18 am
Filed under: Chimpanzee Welfare

by L.Docherty

It’s shocking that in 2012 we are still discussing whether chimpanzees should still be used in medical research. Especially when scientific evidence clearly shows that using chimpanzees in research is unnecessary. The US remains the only developed country that continues to use our closest living relative in medical research.

(see http://www.digitaljournal.com/image/126133)

History of chimpanzees used in research 

  • 1923 Psychobiologist Robert Yerkes purchases two young chimpanzees, Chim and Panzee, considered as the first chimps used in research.
  • 1930 the first research facility using chimpanzees is founded : Yerkes Primate Research Center
  • 1960 the National Institutes of Health establishes 8 NIH-funded primate research facilities.
  • 1966 The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is enacted to provide some protection for animals in research.
  • 1975 The US & Canada restrict and then prohibit import of chimpanzees caught in the wild under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
  • 1976  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designates chimpanzees in captivity as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, allowing for their continued use in research.
  • The first North American chimpanzees sanctuary opens
  • 1986 NIH establishes the Chimpanzee Breeding and Research Program designed to produce greater numbers of chimpanzees to be used in HIV/AIDS research.
  • 1995 A moratorium on the breeding of federally-owned chimpanzees is put in place by NIH due to a “surplus” of chimpanzees, after the realization that the chimpanzee is a poor model for researching HIV. It becomes permanent in 2007.
  • n 1996,New York University made the decision to close down the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine & Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP), which at the time housed nearly 200 chimpanzees and an even larger number of monkeys.
  • 1997, the LEMSIP chimpanzees were sent to Coulston, but not before Jim Mahoney, D.V.M., Ph.D, LEMSIP’s veterinarian and acting director, managed to place 109 chimpanzees and 100 monkeys in sanctuaries around North America, including the Fauna Foundation, Wildlife Waystation and the Primate Rescue Center.
  • 2000 The U.S. passes the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection (CHIMP) Act.
  • 2002, most of the LEMSIP chimpanzees sent to Coulston were rescued by the Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care, now known as Save the Chimps, when it took over Coulston. However, an unknown number remain incarcerated in lab cages, transferred to the Alamogordo Primate Facility, which is owned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and operated under contract by Charles River Labs.
  • 2005 Dr. Jane Goodall, along with national and international animal protection organizations, signs a resolution calling for an end to the use of nonhuman primates in biomedical research and testing.
  • The U.S. passes the “Chimp Haven is Home Act,” prohibiting all “retired” chimpanzees in federal sanctuary from ever being returned to research, securing the original intent of the 2000 CHIMP Act
  • 2010 NIH announces plans to transfer more than 200 government-owned chimpanzees to the Southwest National Primate Research Center in Texas, where they will be readily available for invasive research. 14 of them have been transferred so far.
  • The European Union bans medical research conducted on chimpanzees, but the new directive will not go into effect until January 2013.
  • 2011 In 2008, the Great Ape Protection Act (GAPA) was introduced into the US Congress. The bill, reintroduced in 2009, in 2010 and 2011, is now renamed the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (H.R.1513/S.810).
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service is considering changing the status of captive chimpanzees from “threatened” to “endangered” that will protect them from being used in research.

Chimpanzee numbers used in research today

(http://theadvocate.com/home/3954089-125/110-chimps-to-leave-center)

According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) report published in Dec 15, 2011 there is a total of 937 chimpanzees available in the US for research.  617 of those are supported by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and the National Institute of Health (NIH), at a total cost of $12.38M per year.

Federally supported research groups still using chimpanzees (IOM and NRC report)

Alamogordo Primate Facility (176 chimps)
Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research (176 chimps)
New Iberia Research Center (347 chimps)
Southwest National Primate Research Center (153 chimps)
Yerkes National Primate Research Center (87 chimps)

The numbers of chimpanzees used by the private sectors

Not known. The numbers of chimpanzees used in research in the private sector is very difficult to determine because of the proprietary nature of the information. However according to the IOM and NRC report, based on limited publications and public non-proprietary information, it is clear that the private sector is using the chimpanzee model, especially
in areas of drug safety, efficacy, and pharmacokinetics.

Conclusions of the IOM and NRC report assessing the necessity of chimpanzees in research.

The task given to the committees by the NIH, asked two questions about the need for chimpanzees in research:

(1) Is biomedical research with chimpanzees “necessary for research discoveries and to determine the safety and efficacy of new prevention or treatment strategies?” and

(2) Is behavioral research using chimpanzees “necessary for progress inunderstanding social, neurological, and behavioral factors that influence the development, prevention, or treatment of disease?”

In responding to these questions, the committee concluded that the potential reasons for undertaking biomedical and behavioral research as well as the protocols used in each area are different enough to require different sets of criteria.
However, the committee developed both sets of criteria guided by the following three principles:
1. The knowledge gained must be necessary to advance the public’s health;
2. There must be no other research model by which the knowledge could be obtained, and the research cannot be ethically performed on human subjects; and
3. The animals used in the proposed research must be maintained either in ethologically appropriate physical and social environments or in natural habitats.

The IOM and NRC reviewed the following areas to determine if was necessary to use chimpanzees.

Monoclonal Antibodies – Not necesary
Development of Chimpanzee Monoclonal Antibodies – Not necessary
Safety Testing of Monoclonal Antibody Therapies – Not necessary
Respiratory Syncytial Virus – Not necessary
HCV Antiviral Drugs – Not necessary
Therapeutic HCV Vaccine – Not necessary
Prophylactic HCV Vaccine – the committe are undecided, although in my opinion chimpanzees are not a good model given the differences in the pathogenesis of HCV infection in chimpanzees and humans with respect to immune responses, including weaker neutralizing antibody responses and higher rates of spontaneous viral clearance in chimpanzees.

Comparative Genomics – Each such study would have to be assessed to determine whether it meets the proposed criteria.

Altrusim – The information provided suggests that chimpanzee use in these studies could meet all criteria if more complete descriptions of the handling and housing were provided

Cognition – In view of the scientific benefits compared to the temporary negative impacts on the animal subjects (separation and anesthesia), this study could potentially meet all criteria for approval if sufficient additional assurance were provided that the animals were maintained in speciesappropriate housing and groupings and that the number and duration of procedures imposed on individual animals was minimized in a manner consistent with criteria described earlier in the IOM report.

They concluded that in most cases IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO USE CHIMPANZEES FOR RESEARCH!

Summary of why chimpanzee research should end right now!

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 201o 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 confinment and endless knockdowns have been scientifically documented and is obvious for those who care for ex-lab chimps in sanctuaries throughout the states.

Do we know the costs to the chimpanzees’ themselves?

(http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/20/us/rescue-chimp-migration/index.html)

Yes we do. The costs are too high to justify any type of research, be it behavioural or invasive, where animals are housed  in non-naturalistic living conditions or lacking optimal social conditions or involve forced separation from their group members and especially those studies that involve anaesthesia.

It is well known that chimpanzees recently retired from U. S. laboratories exhibit gross stereotypies (repetitive, behaviors) indicating psychological distress that is both profound and chronic. Other behavioral 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.

I believe, that 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.

Retirement of the research chimpanzees

A very lucky group of ex Immuno-Baxter lab chimps are finally retired at Michael Aufhauser’s sanctuary in Austria. (See http://www.gut-aiderbichl.com/page.international.php)

Many of these research chimpanzees have been subjected to painful invasive procedures most days throughout their  lives, which can be as long as 50+ years.  They live in inappropriate confined conditions, day in day out. Chimpanzees typically live in small groups or pairs in cramped concrete pens or indoor/outdoor runs, or alone in a 5′ x 5′ x 7′ cage allowable by US federal law. Even once released into a sanctuary, the years of confinement and trauma have taken their toll and the majority of chimpanzees suffer from some degree of traumatic stress disorder, depression or other psychological and behavioural problems. Their rehabilitation requires endless amounts of patience and loving care and lots of time to heal the mental scars.  Some scars will never heal but at least the chimpanzees will have the opportunity to live in naturalistic conditions and form friendships in an environment safe from harm.



U.S. stops breeding chimps for research
May 29, 2007, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Chimpanzee Welfare

usnewsnyubabychimps.jpg

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. National Institutes of Health, which
supports a variety of biomedical studies using animals, will stop breeding
government-owned chimpanzees for research — a step animal rights
advocates lauded on Thursday.

The NIH’s National Center for Research Resources cited financial reasons
for its decision this week to permanently cease breeding of
government-owned chimpanzees for research. A breeding moratorium on
NCRR-owned and supported chimpanzees had been in place since 1995.

The Humane Society of the United States said it suspects that ethical
reasons also were involved in the decision. The group, which opposes the
use of these apes as lab animals, said the decision on ending breeding
likely also means NIH no longer will be acquiring new chimpanzees through
other means.
Because chimpanzees are physiologically and genetically similar to people,
they have been used in medical research defended by many scientists but
scorned by animals rights advocates on ethical grounds.

“This decision is a huge step towards a day when chimpanzees are no longer
used in invasive biomedical research and testing,” Kathleen Conlee of the
Humane Society said in a statement.

‘MONUMENTAL DECISION’

“This will spare some chimpanzees a life of up to 60 years in a
laboratory. While it doesn’t help chimpanzees already living in
laboratories, it is a monumental decision,” Conlee added. “Our ultimate
goal is to put an end (to) the use of chimpanzees in research and retire
those chimpanzees to permanent and appropriate sanctuary.”

The Humane Society said the NCRR’s chimpanzee population includes about
500 in laboratories and 90 more in a federal sanctuary for those deemed no
longer needed for research.

In a statement on its Web site, NCRR said it acknowledges the continuing
importance of chimpanzees to biomedical research, but cited “fiduciary
responsibilities” to maintain the health and well-being of chimpanzees
already in its care.

The center said chimpanzees can live at least 50 years in captivity, and
that high-quality care for a single animal over its lifespan can cost up
to $500,000. It said it also must meet budget responsibilities to other
programs and resources.

“Therefore, after careful review of existing chimpanzee resources, NCRR
has determined that it does not have the financial resources to support
the breeding of chimpanzees that are owned or supported by NCRR,” the
center said.

“However, NCRR will continue to honor its commitments to the existing
chimpanzee facilities, including the federal sanctuary for chimpanzees
that are no longer needed in biomedical research,” the center added.
The advocacy group Project R&R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in
U.S. Laboratories said about 1,300 chimpanzees are currently in U.S.
laboratories. It said some were caught in the wild as babies in Africa
while others were born in laboratories or sent from zoos, circuses and
animal trainers.

Theodora Capaldo, the group’s executive director, said that “not only U.S.
but also world sentiment is growing in support of the day when no
chimpanzees will be used in laboratory research.”
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