Tom (~1965-2009), who was retired to Fauna Foundation,
is Project R&R’s ambassador (photo © Fauna).
Note: The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act has not been and is not expected to be reintroduced, given NIH’s 2013 decision to retire almost 90% of its chimpanzees.
Despite the enormous progress the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (GAPCSA) made in Congress, the 112th legislative session ended Jan. 3, 2012 without it passing. GAPSCA was one of many important bills a divisive Congress failed to act on or pass. However, given the successes on behalf of chimpanzees made since NEAVS’ Project R&R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories campaign began in 2006, we are extremely optimistic the outcomes of our work and that of so many other animal protection organizations, sanctuaries, and legislators will continue to positively affect the lives of the hundreds of chimpanzees currently held in U.S. labs. For example, the NIH’s December 2012 decision to retire 113 chimpanzees from the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) in Louisiana and place them all in our federal sanctuary Chimp Haven – not in another lab as NIH had originally announced – is a milestone that anticipates the commitment NIH may finally be making to resolve a problem that is decades old.
On April 17, 2008, the Great Ape Protection Act (GAPA) was introduced into Congress. The bill – reintroduced in 2009 as H.R.1326 and in 2010 as S.3694 – would prohibit invasive research on great apes and retire all federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuary. With continued and growing bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, the bill was reintroduced again April 18, 2011 in the 112th Congress in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate and renamed the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (GAPCSA, H.R.1513/S.810).
GAPCSA would have phased out the use of all great apes in invasive biomedical research over four years and retired all federally owned chimpanzees. The bills were introduced by Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and had 177 co-sponsors in the House and 18 co-sponsors in the Senate. Despite this overwhelming and active legislative support, in the final hours the bill was successfully blocked by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
While other countries have already passed laws that limit or prohibit research on chimpanzees, the United States is the only remaining country in the world with a large population of chimpanzees held captive in its laboratories for use in research. An end to use of chimpanzees – and all great apes – in research will mark the first time a nonhuman species has been protected from use in invasive research in the U.S.