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The HSUS Urges Dept. of Health and Human Services to Retire 202 Chimpanzees

National group delivers more than 25,000 letters, points out how NIH plan will cost millions of taxpayer dollars

WASHINGTON — Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, on Tuesday requested that 202 government-owned chimpanzees being warehoused at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico be retired in place. He backed up the request with more than 25,000 letters from the public to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The chimps are slated to be transferred to the Southwest National Primate Research Center in Texas, where they may be used in invasive research again.

"It is morally wrong to send these long-suffering creatures back into invasive research," Pacelle said. "It is time for the federal government to recognize the service of these animals, retire them, and end their isolation and suffering."

There are many reasons why the plan by the National Center for Research Resources is problematic and the chimpanzees should be retired, including:  

  • None of the chimpanzees at APF have been used in research for at least nine years.
  • NCRR is paying up to $3 million of taxpayer dollars for construction and renovation of facilities at SWNPRC when, in recent years, NCRR has already spent millions to renovate APF.
  • The majority of these chimpanzees are elderly and any additional investment in housing construction is wasteful, particularly since the government has made a commitment that it will no longer breed chimpanzees and therefore will not replace this population.
  • NCRR is planning to move these chimpanzees by January of 2011, although their current contract with Charles River Laboratories doesn't end until May 2011. Therefore NIH will be paying twice for the care of these chimpanzees over a five-month period — at $108 per day per chimpanzee, resulting in the expenditure of over $3.2 million in taxpayer dollars.
  • A nonprofit sanctuary managing the chimpanzees at the facility in Alamogordo could provide superior care for these animals, and likely at a lower cost in comparison to SWNPRC.

On Tuesday, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson met with National Institute of Health officials and urged them not to send the chimps to Texas.

Facts about Chimpanzee Research

  • The Great Ape Protection Act (H.R. 1326 / S. 3694), legislation currently pending in the U.S. Senate and House, would retire approximately 500 federally-owned chimpanzees currently in laboratories to permanent sanctuary.
  • 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.
  • The lifetime care of one chimpanzee can cost up to $1 million. 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.
  • 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.
  • At any given time, about 80 to 90 percent of chimpanzees in laboratories are not used in research, but simply warehoused at tremendous taxpayer expense.
  • In 2008, GlaxoSmithKline, a major pharmaceutical company that is developing therapies for hepatitis, voluntarily decided to end the use of chimpanzees for research.
  • 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 other health professionals. For more information, go to the Chimps Deserve Better Campaign, 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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