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August 3, 2010

Bill to End Invasive Research on Great Apes Introduced in U.S. Senate

The HSUS urges Congress to protect our closest living relatives

WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States praises Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for introducing the Great Ape Protection Act, and urges Congress to work quickly to pass this legislation to phase out invasive research and testing on approximately 1,000 chimpanzees languishing in U.S. laboratories.

According to Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, "The time is past for warehousing chimpanzees in laboratories and subjecting them to painful and unnecessary research — the rest of the world is ahead of us in recognizing this fact and better balances an ethic of concern for the great apes with a commitment to scientific advancement. These long-lived, intelligent and endangered animals deserve better."

The Great Ape Protection Act would retire approximately 500 federally-owned chimpanzees currently in laboratories to permanent sanctuary. The companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 1326, led by Oversight and Investigations Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns, D- N.Y., and Reps. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., James Langevin, D-R.I., and Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., has the broad, bipartisan support of nearly 150 co-sponsors. 

Chimpanzees have historically failed as a research model, and most of the chimpanzees remaining in laboratories today aren't being used for research purposes. Instead, they are being warehoused, some for 30, 40 and 50 years, wasting millions in taxpayer dollars every year.

"The bipartisan Great Ape Protection Act is a common-sense reform to end needless pain and psychological harm to one of the animal kingdom's most highly developed animals, the chimpanzee," Sen. Cantwell said. "The chimpanzee is a poor model for illness research, and the vast majority of the 500 federally-owned chimpanzees are just wasting away in research laboratories resulting in millions of dollars of wasteful government spending.  This bill would require these chimpanzees be permanently retired to sanctuaries, where it is far cheaper to care for them — not to mention a better environment for these great apes."

"This legislation provides the common-sense savings of approximately $54 million of taxpayer money, per year," Sen. Collins said. "The legislation also corrects the pain and psychological damage that apes often experience as a result of needless experiments and solitary confinement. This bill would place these apes in sanctuaries, which would provide them with a more natural, comfortable habitat while saving taxpayer money."

"Chimpanzees are no longer needed for research, yet we remain the only country besides Gabon to continue holding these animals in laboratories as possible subjects for invasive research," Sen. Sanders said. "I believe it is time to release these animals from the laboratories where they are currently housed and allow them to live in humane sanctuaries — a move that would create a sizeable savings to taxpayers."

Efforts to end chimpanzee research and to see chimpanzees retired to sanctuary have drawn unprecedented support not only from the public but also from more than 600 scientists, physicians and educators. For more information, go to the Chimps Deserve Better Campaign, humanesociety.org/chimps.

Facts

  • The United States is the only developed country in the world that continues the large-scale confinement of chimpanzees in laboratories. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom have banned or limited their use.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health, the cost to U.S. taxpayers for chimpanzee research and maintenance is more than $60 million per year, money that many in the scientific community believe could be allocated to more effective research. The lifetime care of one chimpanzee can cost up to $1 million.
  • At any given time, about 80 to 90 percent of chimpanzees in laboratories are not used in research, but simply warehoused at taxpayer expense.
  • GlaxoSmithKline, a major pharmaceutical company that is developing therapies for hepatitis, voluntarily decided to end the use of chimpanzees in their research at the end of 2008 and stated that "[w]hile GSK recognises the importance of scientific knowledge tied to work with chimpanzees in the past, we also recognise that - in part thanks to new directions and advancement of animal models and other techniques in biomedical research - the case for using great apes in the future is less clear than it may have been previously." 

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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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