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December 15, 2011

The HSUS Praises Institute of Medicine Finding That Invasive Biomedical Chimpanzee Experiments Are “Not Necessary”

Animal Advocates Welcome Historic Declaration to End Decades of Debate

  • Flo is an elderly chimpanzee who was used for decades in invasive biomedical research experiments. Alamogordo Primate Facility

The Humane Society of the United States is tremendously encouraged by the Institute of Medicine’s conclusion that the current use of chimpanzees for invasive biomedical research is not scientifically necessary. This finding, among others, is found in the IOM’s report entitled “Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity,” which was released today.
 
“Chimpanzees have provided limited value in research settings, and now alternative methods have been developed that will make their use all but obsolete,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “When one takes into account the scientific findings of the IOM, along with the obvious financial and moral costs of using chimps in invasive experiments, then there’s only one reasonable conclusion: it’s time to end the use of chimps in harmful, invasive research.”
 
Costs of Chimpanzee Experiments
The federal government spends $30 million per year to maintain and use 1,000 chimpanzees in laboratories. It would take an additional $9.5 million and 59 chimpanzee births per year in order to maintain the current population. Given the results of this report and mounting federal debt, the expense of maintaining chimpanzees in laboratories can no longer be justified.
 
Instead, funds should be directed to more cost-effective research technology and methods such as in vitro studies, ex vivo modeling and epidemiological studies. More modern research methods would save money and, in the long run, return more reliable results in a fraction of the time.
 
The HSUS is calling for an end to harmful experiments on chimpanzees once and for all and urges Congress to pass the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act.
 
The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act
The legislation, S. 810 and H.R. 1513, was introduced with broad, bipartisan support and is championed by Senators Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; and Representatives Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.; Steve Israel, D-N.Y.; Dave Reichert, R-Wash.; Jim Langevin, D-R.I.; and Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y. Bartlett is a former biomedical researcher who previously used primates for research. The bill would phase out the use of chimpanzees for invasive biomedical research and retire to sanctuary the approximately 500 federally owned chimpanzees, or half the total used by laboratories. The House and Senate bills collectively have approximately 150 cosponsors.
 
Facts
• Chimpanzees used for experiments are inevitably subjected to physical and psychological harm – some for more than 50 years – as they endure painful procedures, illnesses, the stress of captivity, and sometimes years of solitary confinement in barren cages.

• The United States is the last developed country in the world that continues to use chimpanzees in invasive biomedical research. Australia, The European Union, Japan and New Zealand have banned or strictly limited the use of chimpanzees in invasive biomedical research.

• Chimpanzees are human’s closest living relative. They use tools, form close family bonds, and teach their young specific behaviors that are passed on from one generation to the next.

• Captive chimpanzees have been taught to communicate using American Sign Language and visual communication systems such as lexigrams and graphic symbols.

• Senators Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.; and Tom Udall, D-N.M., have been instrumental in shining a spotlight on this issue, and requested the IOM report which led to today’s findings that invasive research on chimps is scientifically unnecessary.

Media Contact: Anna West, 301-258-1518, awest@humanesociety.org

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