Chimpanzee retirement is within reach. A major scientific report has advised the government to severely limit research using chimpanzees. It is now the time for Congress to take action and make the end of chimpanzee research a reality.
The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (S. 810/H.R. 1513) would effectively end invasive research on an estimated 1,000 chimpanzees currently in government-sponsored labs and prohibit such experiments on all great apes (defined as chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons). Legislative support of this bill has been steadily growing, and those in the science community have also questioned using chimpanzees in invasive research.
For example, in December, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced that it was adopting a new strict criteria, drastically limiting the use of chimpanzees in research. The decision came following the release of an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report entitled “Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity,” which provided the criteria NIH is adopting. A working group is also being appointed to assess the 37 federally-funded research projects using chimps, half of which will likely not meet the criteria and will need to be phased out.
Meanwhile, no new research projects using chimpanzees will be considered until further notice. Also, any chimpanzees currently on “inactive” status will continue as inactive, which applies to the nearly 175 chimpanzees currently at the Alamogordo, New Mexico, facility, and the 25 chimps who were recently moved to a facility in Texas.
This move would actually save taxpayers money since, as the Great Ape and Cost Saving Act states, "maintaining great apes in laboratories costs the Federal Government more than caring for great apes in suitable sanctuaries that are specifically designed to provide adequate lifetime care for great apes." Additionally, with the passage of this bill, it’s been estimated that taxpayers could save $300 million over 10 years.
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation to still use chimpanzees in invasive research, and six countries —Australia, Austria, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Sweden—have either banned or severely limited the use of great apes in research projects. In addition, Great Britain stopped granting licenses for chimpanzee research in 1997, and the Balearic Islands granted legal rights to great apes in 2007. New Europe-wide legislation also states, "Great Apes shall not be used" in experiments.
AAVS sees the IOM report and NIH’s action as significant, positive signs indicating that it is a matter of when, not if, invasive experiments on chimpanzees will end. However, we must continue this positive momentum! Please contact both your Senators and Representative and ask them to support the Great Ape and Cost Savings Act. Tell them that chimpanzee use in research is unethical and that you don’t want your tax dollars supporting such a practice.
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