NIH Urged to Retire Lab Chimps

Posted January 23rd, 2013 at 7:35 pm (UTC+0)
6 comments

Electrodes are placed on the head of lab chimpanzee Mizuki for brain wave measurement (Photo: NIH)

Electrodes are placed on the head of lab chimpanzee Mizuki for brain wave measurement. (NIH)

An advisory group has called on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to retire most of the nearly 700 chimps it owns or supports.

NIH’s Council of Councils also recommended the medical research agency drastically cut back on the various medical studies involving the use of chimpanzees, while making certain those chimps that are still being studied are kept in proper living conditions.

The recommendations, contained in an 84-page report, were in response to a December 2011 review by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which concluded that while the chimpanzee was a valuable animal model in the past, most current biomedical use of the animal is unnecessary.

The IOM suggested that while chimpanzees could still serve an important role in some research areas, a set of guidelines, principles and criteria must be established to govern that research.

Chimpanzees that had been used for biomedical testing by the NIH are seen here getting acquainted with their new retirement home at Chimp Haven in Louisiana. (Photo: AP)

Chimpanzees that had been used for NIH biomedical testing get acquainted with their new retirement home at Chimp Haven in Louisiana. (AP)

Using the IOM report for guidance, NIH’s advisory group recommended the majority of NIH-owned chimpanzees be retired and transferred to facilities within the federal sanctuary system, while immediately planning to ensure proper accommodations and treatment for the chimps.

The advisory group suggested a small population of about 50 chimpanzees be maintained by the agency for future potential research as long it meets the principles and guidelines contained within the IOM report.

The report stressed that animals remaining in NIH custody should be kept in “ethologically appropriate” settings, which include large, complex social groups, year-round outdoor access and more than 1,000 square feet of living space per chimpanzee.

The size and placement of this colony, according to the NIH group, should also be reassessed about every five years to ensure  a colony of chimps is still needed and that the animals aren’t overused.

With fewer chimpanzees being made available to scientists for research, the advisory group recommended  NIH to encourage and support the development and refinement of other approaches, especially alternative animal models, such as genetically altered mice, for research on new, emerging and reemerging diseases.

A chimpanzee named Lyons, sits in one of the play yards at Chimp Haven in Keithville, La. Chimp Haven is a permanent home for chimpanzees retired from biomedical research, entertainment, or no longer wanted as pets. (Photo: AP)

A chimpanzee named Lyons sits in a play yard at Chimp Haven in Keithville, La. (AP)

The new recommendations follow last month’s NIH decision to move all 100 of the federally-owned chimpanzees at the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana to Chimp Haven, a federal chimpanzee sanctuary in nearby Keithville, Louisiana, over the next 12 to 15 months.

A leading animal rights group praised the  recommendations.

“The Humane Society of the United States is extremely pleased that these experts confirm what the public has been urging: move away from invasive chimpanzee experimentation and release these animals to the most appropriate setting available – sanctuary,” said Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues at the Humane Society. “There are top-notch sanctuaries in the U.S., including federal sanctuary Chimp Haven, that have the capacity to expand and we are ready to work with the government to provide these chimpanzees with the retirement they so greatly deserve.”

The NIH will make a final determination on the recommendations after a 60-day public comment period that begins today and runs until March 23, 2013.

6 Responses to “NIH Urged to Retire Lab Chimps”

  1. [...] ChimpsNew York TimesUS govt scientists to retire most research chimpsFox NewsNBCNews.com (blog) -Voice of America (blog) -Motherboardall 671 news [...]

  2. balde amadou oury says:

    they should be protected . i think they deserve to be preserved.

  3. A.Lemke says:

    …all at taxpayer expense, of course. What’s wrong with that? These animals deserve to live in a home better than yours, and you should pay for it for as long as they live. After all, the taxpayers of the USA are generous and would love to give more every paycheck for these creatures to live in comfort.

  4. Cranksy (USA) says:

    One midget step for mankind and other conscience beings.

  5. Cranksy (USA) says:

    It is consciOUS, you idiot!

About Science World

Science World

Science World is VOA’s on-air and online magazine covering science, health, technology and the environment.

Hosted by Rick Pantaleo, Science World‘s informative, entertaining and easy-to-understand presentation offers the latest news, features and one-on-one interviews with researchers, scientists, innovators and other news makers.

Listen to a Recent Program

Listen Sidebar

Broadcast Schedule

Broadcast Schedule

Science World begins after the newscast on Friday at 2200, Saturday at 0300, 1100 and 1900 and Sunday at 0100, 0400, 0900, 1100 and 1200.

Science World may also be heard on some VOA affiliates after the news on Saturday at 0900 and 1100. (All times UTC).

Contact Us

E-Mail
science@voanews.com

Postal Mail
Science World
Voice of America
330 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20237
USA