Chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they
are to gorillas.
Chimpanzees and humans share 99 percent of their genetic composition.
Chimpanzees are highly intelligent, probably more so than human-based
are able to measure. They make and use tools, cooperate with and learn
each other, and can learn various forms of expression and communication,
including American Sign Language and computer symbols. Chimpanzees also
have good memories.
Habitats Being Destroyed
Fewer than 250,000 chimpanzees still exist in western and central
Chimpanzees now occupy only a fraction of their former territory.
habitats, already small and isolated, are being further destroyed by
commercial and agricultural development. In Africa, both species of
anzees--pan paniscus and pan troglodytes--are considered endangered. The
U.S. Department of the Interior also lists them as endangered.
There are approximately 2,000 captive chimpanzees in the
About 300 are in zoos, and the remaining 1,700 were bred for medical
research.(2) Many are the offspring of chimpanzees captured in the wild
1973, when the United States agreed to abide by an international treaty
prohibiting the capture and importation of wild chimpanzees.
Any increased use of chimpanzees in U.S. laboratories must rely on
breeding. However, chimpanzees who are taken from their mothers before
age of four or five years seldom develop the social skills necessary for
breeding. Female chimpanzees do not begin breeding until they are about
years old, and thereafter do not breed at all during each baby's four-
infancy. Artificial insemination has increased breeding only slightly.
Chimpanzees infected with AIDS, hepatitis, or other diseases usually
cannot be used for
breeding. Unwanted chimpanzees from zoos and circuses are sometimes sold
Chimpanzees are still captured in the wild by poachers
who shoot chimpanzee
mothers and then take their infants. Many of the captured baby
die before they reach a laboratory. Because the adults protect the
several adults are sometimes killed to obtain one baby.
Popular in AIDS Research
Chimpanzees are now popular subjects for AIDS research, although their
immune system does not succumb to the virus. Chimpanzees are also used
painful cancer, hepatitis, and psychological tests, as well as for
artificial insemination and birth control methods, blood diseases, organ
transplants, and experimental surgery. Their use in military experiments
suspected, but such information is kept secret and is hard to verify.
they are in short supply, captive chimps are often subjected to multiple
experiments, each of which can last an average of two to four years.
Chimpanzees are highly active and very socially
oriented. When kept isolated
in laboratories with no regular physical contact with either humans or
chimps, they quickly become psychotic.
Because adult chimpanzees are strong and often
unmanageable, and because
infected chimpanzees cannot be placed in zoos or existing sanctuaries,
chimpanzees are killed before the age of 10. (The normal lifespan of a
chimpanzee is 40 to 50 years.) Others, perhaps not as lucky, are kept in
cages for decades at such places as Buckshire Corp., a USDA-licensed
dealer exposed by PETA in 1994 for housing 42 chimpanzees in abysmal
Chimpanzee Management Plan
During the late 1980s, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) developed
called "National Chimpanzee Management Plan." This plan is, in reality,
funding mechanism for five breeding colonies to maintain a steady supply
chimpanzees for vivisectors. Under a series of grants, the plan
breeding colonies of chimps at the Yerkes Regional Primate Research
in Atlanta, the University of Texas in Bastrop, the Primate Foundation
in Tempe, the University of Southwestern Louisiana in New Iberia, and
Mexico State University (NMSU) in Alamogordo. In 1993, NMSU's chimpanzee
colony passed into the hands of the Coulston Foundation, a facility that
cages more than 500 chimpanzees. Coulston owner, Frederick Coulston,
to himself as the "father of toxicology" and promotes the use of
human primates in archaic, painful toxicology tests. He refers to
as "vicious, aggressive animals" and, in an interview with The Boston
admitted to spraying chemicals into the open eyes of monkeys at Coulston.(3)
Coulston gets most of its funding from NIH.
The Chimpanzee Management Plan (CMP) also established
research bases at Yerkes and the University of Texas, as well as at
in College Station and at the University of Pittsburgh. The
Inventory System monitors the status of all the captive chimps.
The CMP costs $1.5 million a year just to maintain the
chimps and many
millions more to staff and operate. The initial budget request for CMP-related
grants was rejected by Congress in 1986. CMP programs are now being
by NIH with $4.5 million taken from the existing AIDS research budget.
Current CMP guidelines do not prohibit any potentially
painful or psychologic-
ally damaging experiment from being performed on chimpanzees, nor do
establish minimum housing standards. The plan has no provision for
or "worn out" chimps, nor does it require that infant chimps be raised
Two-thirds of the chimps raised under the CMP are
released to research
projects. The rest are used for breeding.
The National Institutes of Health is now considering giving $3.3 million
Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York to breed chimps who would be
killed to provide hearts and other organs for human transplants. Each
planted chimp heart would be used only until a human heart became
No chimp-to-human heart transplant has yet been successful.
1.Kelley, Tina, "Talking to the Animals," The Baltimore Sun, Jan. 22,
2.Ibid. 3.Allen, Scott, "Rescuers Try to Acquire 140 Air Force Chimps,"
The Boston Globe.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals- 501 Front Street - Norfolk,
23510 - 757-622-PETA (7382)
Go on to
Environmental Ramifications of Fur
Return to 20 January 1999 Issue
Return to Newsletters
** Fair Use Notice**
This document may contain copyrighted material, use of which has not been
specifically authorized by the copyright owners. I believe that this
not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the
copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright
Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your
own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright