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April 10, 2013

President Obama, NIH Applauded for Addressing Needs of Chimpanzees Retired from Research

Budget proposal would save taxpayer funds

  • Retiring chimpanzees from research to sanctuary is more cost effective than keeping them in laboratories.  iStockphoto

President Obama’s proposed FY2014 budget wisely includes a cost saving plan to increase sanctuary capacity for government-owned chimpanzees no longer needed for invasive research. It is less expensive to care for chimpanzees in sanctuary than it is to maintain them in barren laboratories.

Under the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act, enacted in 2000 to establish a national chimpanzee sanctuary system, the National Institutes of Health is responsible for the lifelong care of nearly 600 government-owned chimpanzees. Some of these chimpanzees could live up to 60 years.

However, the CHIMP Act limits how much NIH may spend on chimpanzee care in sanctuary, without any cap on warehousing chimps in more costly laboratories. By fixing this discrepancy, Congress would leave NIH free to continue its settled policy of contracting with the national sanctuary to care for chimpanzees retired from research, providing them the highest welfare at a lower cost to taxpayers.

“Chimpanzees are no longer needed in invasive, government-funded research,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “It is time to retire them and send them to sanctuary where they can pass their remaining years in peace.”

The need for sanctuary space is likely to increase even more in the coming years due to several recent developments:

  • December 2011: The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report concluding that the current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is unnecessary, with very few exceptions.
  • December 2012: NIH decided to retire more than 100 government-owned chimpanzees to Chimp Haven, the national sanctuary, after declaring them “permanently ineligible” for research.
  • January 2013: An NIH Working Group of independent experts, who were evaluating how the agency should implement the IOM report, recommended that NIH retire the majority of the more than 350 government-owned chimpanzees currently in laboratories to sanctuary.

Media Contact:  Niki Ianni: 301-548-7793; nianni@humanesociety.org

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