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June 4, 2012

Public Calls on National Institutes of Health to End Invasive Chimpanzee Experiments

The Humane Society of the United States delivers more than 30,000 letters to National Institutes of Health advisory body

  • This chimpanzee was used in harmful research. She now lives at the HSUS' Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch. Michelle Riley/HSUS

The Humane Society of the United States delivered more than 30,000 letters from the public to members of the National Institutes of Health’s Council of Councils and its working group currently evaluating the use of chimpanzees in NIH-supported research. The letters requested that the NIH end the funding of projects or contracts involving the invasive use of chimpanzees or chimpanzee breeding, retire all federally owned chimpanzees to suitable sanctuaries and refocus efforts towards the further development of alternative research methods.

The Council of Councils, a group tasked with advising the NIH on implementing recent Institute of Medicine report findings on chimpanzee research, has convened a working group to examine the issue and present regular updates on their progress to the Council. The first update is scheduled for June 5.

“Opinion polls have shown that the majority of the public does not support using chimpanzees in harmful experiments and believes chimpanzees in laboratories should be retired to appropriate sanctuaries,” said Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues at The HSUS. “We hope that the Council of Councils and the National Institutes of Health will take this clear message from the public into consideration when making decisions about the fate of chimpanzees in laboratories.”

The IOM report could not identify any area of current biomedical research for which chimpanzee use is necessary or critical, however it did not rule out the possibility of future use. Following the release of the report, NIH announced a halt to funding for new studies involving chimpanzees until it could determine how to implement the recommended criteria and guidelines.

Media Contact: Niki Ianni, 301.548.7793, nianni@humanesociety.org.

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