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June 25, 2009

Lawmakers Call for Protection of Chimpanzees in US Laboratories

The Humane Society of the United States

Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., and The Humane Society of the United States hosted a briefing today for Members of Congress and staff on the Great Ape Protection Act (H.R. 1326) and the plight of chimpanzees in laboratories. The legislation, strongly supported by The HSUS, has been introduced by Chairman Towns along with Reps. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and Roscoe Bartlett, D-Md., to phase out invasive research on great apes and calls for the retirement of approximately 500 government-owned chimpanzees to permanent sanctuary.

The use of chimpanzees in lab research has drastically declined in recent years due to past scientific failures, discovery of more viable alternatives, high financial costs, increased public outcry and ethical concerns. The vast majority of the 1,000 chimpanzees who remain in research facilities in the U.S. today are not even used in active experiments but are instead warehoused at an enormous taxpayer expense, rather than retired to sanctuary to peacefully live out their remaining years.

"Our closest living relatives deserve better than to be warehoused for decades in barren laboratory cages," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "The information our panel presents today should compel Congress to swiftly pass the Great Ape Protection Act and provide chimpanzees in laboratories freedom from harm and the life in sanctuary that they deserve, before their time runs out."

The findings of The HSUS' 9-month undercover investigation at the world's largest chimpanzee laboratory, the New Iberia Research Center in southwest Louisiana, were discussed at the briefing. Undercover footage from the investigation was shown as well, uncovering the psychological and physical suffering endured by chimpanzees in laboratories caused by solitary confinement, as well as painful procedures such as multiple liver biopsies.

The investigation gave the public a revealing look at what happens every day to chimps locked away in U.S. laboratories — some of whom have been subjected to inhumane conditions and cruel treatment for more than 50 years. The life these chimpanzees must endure and the wasted millions of federal dollars funneled to these laboratories each year are astonishing.

To learn more about chimps in research, visit humanesociety.org/chimps.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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