Tuesday, January 22nd was a banner day for chimpanzees in US research labs. The NIH Working Group on the Use of Chimpanzees in NIH-Supported Research issued its final report and recommendations on the future use of chimpanzees in research. Among the highlights were a recommendation to retire more than 300 NIH-owned chimpanzees to sanctuary over the next 3-5 years. It was acknowledged that among federally-funded facilities with chimpanzees, only the federal sanctuary system was currently meeting the criteria for “ethologically appropriate” living conditions. (Save the Chimps is not a federally-funded sanctuary.) Approximately 50 chimps would remain in a research lab or labs, but would be provided living conditions governed by a strict set of criteria—including social companionship, spacious housing, and a culture of care and compassion. Any research conducted on these chimpanzees would be subject to increased standards and oversight meant to protect the chimpanzees from suffering and harm.
The report is now subject to a 60-day public comment period, after which the NIH will determine whether it will accept the report’s recommendations.
To read the report, please visit http://dpcpsi.nih.gov/council/working_group.aspx.
To submit comments, please visit http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-13-026.html
No doubt on many of our supporters are wondering: Will Save the Chimps be taking any of the chimpanzees?
The short answer is, it is too soon to say. This report is great news for chimpanzees in research labs, but much work remains to secure funding for their retirement. Members of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA), including Save the Chimps, are currently at or near capacity. Sanctuaries will need an investment of resources in order to expand and accept more chimpanzees. The current federal mechanism for funding chimpanzee sanctuaries, the CHIMP Act, will soon reach a spending cap included in the bill when the Act was passed in 2000. The good news is, NAPSA sanctuaries, animal welfare groups, and the NIH are working cooperatively to address these challenges. However, chimpanzees will continue to need your voice in order to ensure they are provided with the resources needed for their lifetime care in sanctuaries.