Feds to Return Chimps to Research: Urgent Action Needed!

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Originally Posted: 26 Aug 2010

Feds to Return Chimps to Research: Urgent Action Needed!

FROM American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS)

Tell Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to stop the transfer of these chimps to research facilities and to instead retire them so they may live the rest of their lives in peace at a sanctuary.

CONTACT

Sign an online petition

And/Or make direct contact:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
phone (877) 696-6775
online email form

INFORMATION / TALKING POINTS

After nearly a decade of living in peace, over 200 chimpanzees are slated by the federal government to return to biomedical research, where they may be housed in isolation and used in invasive experiments.

In the late 1990s, AAVS and several other animal groups joined together to rescue hundreds of chimpanzees languishing at the Coulston Foundation, a now defunct New Mexico laboratory. Coulston conducted biomedical experiments on these animals, exposing many to HIV and hepatitis, and repeatedly committed violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), some of which led to the deaths of several chimps.

Many of the chimpanzees were relocated to sanctuaries, while others remained at the facility, which was then contracted by another laboratory that agreed not to use the animals in invasive research. The chimps were moved to large enclosures, so they could live in groups, form relationships, and enjoy the outdoors. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) agreed to cover the cost of their care.

However, this contract ends at the beginning of 2011, and NIH has announced plans to move the chimpanzees, many of whom are elderly, like Flo (52 years), Winny (48 years), and Kate (46 years), to the Southwest National Primate Research Center in Texas, which has been recently cited for failing to provide primates with adequate housing and environmental enrichment. The lab was also cited for failing to safely secure a young rhesus monkey, who gained access to an outdoor area in sub-freezing temperatures, causing hypothermia so severe that he needed to be euthanized. Furthermore, another citation involved a baboon who was observed showing stereoptic circling (a sign of severe stress), possibly caused by the animal being housed alone, despite the fact that documents approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which oversees lab operation, called for animals to be housed in pairs. These are serious violations of the AWA.

Moving these chimpanzees to this facility is unconscionable, and experts agree that transporting nonhuman primates can cause them significant stress, which can compromise their general welfare and, in some cases, death.

In addition, it is a waste of taxpayer money. Significant funds will be needed to transport the animals to Texas and to renovate the new lab to accommodate them, while millions have already been spent refurbishing the New Mexico facility in an effort to make it a more appropriate living space for the chimps. Furthermore, the cost for caring for a retired chimpanzee in a sanctuary is approximately $275,000, whereas a the cost of a chimp living in a lab can range from $300,000 - $500,000.

The fact that the use of chimpanzees and other great apes in research has been banned or severely limited in several countries, including Australia, Austria, Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Sweden, verifies that these animals are not needed in research. Instead, these 200 chimpanzees should be permanently retired and allowed to continue to live their lives free of pain and suffering.


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