National Institutes of Health confirms it will phase out chimpanzee experiments

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  July-August 2013:

WASHINGTON D.C.––The National Institutes of Health on June 26,  2013 confirmed that it intends to retire about 310 chimpanzees from research use during the next few years,  retaining 50 “if needed for crucial medical studies that could be performed no other way,”  reported Associated Press medical writer Lauran Neergaard.

“Of nine biomedical projects underway,  the NIH said six would be ended early,”  Neergaard added.   “Of another 13 behavioral or genetic studies involving chimps,  five would be ended early.  NIH would not identify the projects,  but Collins said potential future need for chimps could be in creating a vaccine against hepatitis C.”  

Where the retired chimps will go is unclear.  Chimp Haven,  the largest federal funded facility for chimps retired from biomedical research,  is already near capacity,  with about 150 chimps.  Save The Chimps,  of Fort Pierce,  Florida,  not federally funded,  has nearly twice as many,  but is also near capacity.  Primarily Primates and Wildlife Waystation house smaller colonies of ex-research chimps.  Neither facility,  however,  has much expansion room.  

With U.S. sanctuary space for retired research chimps scarce,  Friends of Washoe on May 29,  2013 announced that the last two chimps at the Chimpanzee & Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University in Ellensburg will soon be retired to the Fauna Foundation,  near Montreal,  Quebec.  The Fauna Foundation presently has 11 chimps

The NIH decision to phase out chimp research was considered inevitable after the Institute of Medicine declared in 2011 that most use of chimps in invasive medical research is no longer justified,  and after the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on June 11,  2013 announced a proposal to classify both wild and captive chimpanzees as endangered.  Currently,  chimps in the wild chimpanzees are considered “endangered,”  while captive chimps are “threatened,”  a status which permits their use in commerce.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service determined on review of a petition submitted in 2010 by the Jane Goodall Institute, Humane Society of the U.S.,  the American Zoo Association,  the New England Anti-Vivisection Society,  and the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance “that the ESA does not allow for captive-held animals to be assigned a separate legal status from their wild counterparts,”  said USFWS spokesperson Claire Cassel.

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