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March 17, 2010

Louisiana Lab Urged to Retire Chimps

The HSUS urges New Iberia Research Center to retire nine chimpanzees

The Humane Society of the United States is calling on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's New Iberia Research Center to release nine available chimps, collectively known as Group Megan, to sanctuary. The chimpanzees' fate is currently under evaluation by the university. Sanctuary is one option the institution is considering, but so is the unacceptable alternative of condemning the chimps to a lifetime of invasive research.

The HSUS is asking members and constituents to contact university president E. Joseph Savoie and ask him to send these nine chimpanzees, some of whom have lived in a laboratory setting for more than 20 years, to a sanctuary to live out the rest of their lives after enduring experimentation.

In March 2009, The HSUS released the disturbing results of an undercover investigation at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's New Iberia Research Center—the largest chimpanzee laboratory in the world, with more than 320 chimpanzees. The investigation resulted in a 108-page complaint to the USDA, which alleged more than 300 violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The USDA subsequently opened its own investigation and has yet to make a ruling in the matter.

"Given the conditions that our undercover investigation exposed at NIRC, we are extremely concerned about the welfare of these chimps if they are made available for invasive research," says Kathleen Conlee, director of program management for animal research issues at The HSUS. "NIRC already has hundreds of chimps who are stored at their facility. They should do the right thing by retiring these chimps and providing lifetime funding for their care."

Group Megan has been used in cognitive experiments at NIRC as part of the Cognitive Evolution Group Lab which was recently closed. The group originally consisted of 10 chimpanzees but reports indicate that an adult female, named Jadine, recently died. The other nine chimpanzees include an adult male named Apollo; four adult females named Megan, Kara, Candy and Mindy; and four young, male chimpanzees—age 5 and younger—named Brayden, Keagan, Lance and a 6-month-old whose name is unknown.

Facts:

  • At any given time, about 80 percent to 90 percent of chimpanzees in laboratories are not used in research, but simply warehoused at taxpayer expense.
  • In March 2009, The Great Ape Protection Act (H.R. 1326) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and currently has 142 cosponsors. The bill would phase out the use of chimpanzees in invasive research, retire the about 500 government-owned chimpanzees to permanent sanctuary and prevent any further breeding of chimpanzees for research.

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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