US Government Ends Medical Testing on Last Chimpanzees, Retires Them to a Sanctuary
The US’ National Institutes of Health announced last week that it will end its medical testing on chimpanzees and release the 50 remaining primates to a sanctuary in Louisiana named Chimp Haven. The move is reported as a decision in the name of science, a journey which began in 2010, when the NIH first began phasing chimpanzees out of research programs. When the animals became listed as endangered this year, researchers had to apply for an additional license to conduct their studies on them.
In 2013, around 300 chimpanzees were retired from government research. Francis Collins, director of NIH, stated in an interview with Nature:
“It seems inescapable that after two-and-a-half years when there has not been a single request for access to these 50 chimpanzees […] we have moved on from the time when research on chimpanzees was considered essential.”
While this may be a relieving turn of events for the 50 retired “test subjects,” research involving chimpanzees can still take place in the private sector. The US government will not be using any primates to conduct research now, yet the NIH released a statement saying:
“Research with other non-human primates will continue to be valued, supported, and conducted.”
There has been upset in some scientific circles about removing chimpanzees from the pool of test subjects. Those who have been testing vaccines to treat wild chimps for Ebola, for example, state that the decision puts a damper on their progress. The decision is certainly progress for animal rights, however, and those fighting for more animal freedom will not likely rest any time soon.
Photo credit: Flickr (Afrika Force)