Posted October 2012
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced that 110 chimpanzees housed at the controversial New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana have been declared “permanently ineligible” for biomedical research. While this is wonderful news, AAVS and other animal advocates are concerned that only 10 of these chimpanzees are slated to be retired to Chimp Haven, a sanctuary that receives funding from the government and others such as AAVS. Initial reports said that the other 100 animals would be transferred to the Texas Biomedical Research Institute.
However, NIH has indicated that it may be reconsidering its decision, referring to practical barriers such as space limitations that prevent immediate full retirement at sanctuaries.
With the risk of changing leadership and budget priorities at NIH, the only guarantee for chimps is to pass the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (GAPCSA) that would retire ALL federally-owned chimps to sanctuary—not only these 110 animals but hundreds of others as well—and it would prohibit invasive experiments on ALL great apes (defined as chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons).
With your support and that of other concerned advocates, progress is being made and GAPCSA is moving forward! In July, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works overwhelmingly supported the bill, allowing it to be voted on by the full Senate. Additionally, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a co-sponsor of the bill, recently expressed hope that the Senate will pass GAPCSA during a ‘lame-duck’ session after the election.
The U.S. is the only country to still use chimpanzees in invasive research. However, many in the science community have challenged that practice. In December 2011, NIH announced that it was adopting 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 recommended the criteria for NIH. A working group has been appointed to assess all of the 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 are being considered until further notice.
Passing GAPCSA would actually save taxpayers money since, as the bill 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." With the passage of this bill, it’s been estimated that taxpayers could save $300 million over 10 years.
After much time and energy, positive momentum is gaining, and there is real hope for a good outcome. Now, more than ever, it is important that we keep up the pressure!
What You Can Do!
Please use the form below to contact your Senators and Representative and ask them to work for passage of the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act. Once you enter your address, your letter will be directed to the correct elected officials.
If you want to look up your Senators or Representative, check here.
We encourage you to personalize your message for a more positive response.
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