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Chimpanzees’ fate in invasive research to be weighed at International Congress

August 1, 2008 • Posted in Project R&R News

United States and European Union Set Stage to End Use of Great Apes

At the International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland, a symposium on invasive great ape research, one of the first-ever devoted to the subject at this influential conference, which begins August 3rd. The symposium takes place August 8th at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.  

The symposium comes at a time of major international activity on the issue, including the recent introduction of the Great Ape Protection Act, which would phase out invasive research on great apes, in the U.S. Congress.

Entitled “The use of great apes for invasive research: science, policy, welfare, and current events,” the symposium will address these timely issues as more chimpanzees are being retired from research and more countries are adopting laws that prohibit great ape use in harmful research. Those initiatives include a resolution recently passed in Spain, the recently introduced Great Ape Protection Act, and the pending Revision of an EU-wide Directive 86/609, which is expected to confirm a total ban on great ape use and the use of wild caught primates in the European Union.

“This is a historic dialogue on the use of great apes in invasive research,” said Kathleen Conlee, director of program management for animal research issues at The HSUS, and chair of this symposium. “I look forward to discussing the urgent need to get all great apes out of labs and into sanctuaries with leading primatologists.”  Conlee will lead with a presentation on the status of great ape research worldwide, a discussion of The HSUS’ Chimps Deserve Better campaign, and recent worldwide successes on behalf of chimpanzees in laboratories. 

Conlee will lead with a presentation on the status of great ape research worldwide, a discussion of The HSUS’ Chimps Deserve Better campaign, and recent worldwide successes on behalf of chimpanzees in laboratories. The New England Anti-Vivisection Society’s Project R&R: Release & Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories, a national organization collaborating with The HSUS, will present on three salient topics, including scientific arguments against invasive chimpanzee research, as well as rehabilitation of chimpanzees in sanctuary. Psychologist Theodora Capaldo, EdD, president of NEAVS and executive director of Project R&R, will also discuss humane considerations, and case studies of chimpanzees who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.  

According to Dr. Capaldo, “These case studies clearly illustrate the psychological toll that laboratory life takes on chimpanzees and how their suffering ethically challenges their use for invasive research, which must come to an end.”  Additional speakers will be on the panel to discuss:

  • The scientific case against invasive chimpanzee research: Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D., geneticist and science director for Project R&R
  • The scientific case for invasive research on chimpanzees: John VandeBerg, Ph.D., Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research
  • Ethical considerations regarding invasive research on great apes: Michael Balls, Ph.D., Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments
  • An overview of sanctuaries and how they rehabilitate chimpanzees formerly used for research: Gloria Grow, Fauna Foundation Sanctuary Canada and Project R&R co-chair 
  • The conduct of noninvasive research on African apes at African sanctuaries: Esther Hermann; Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology


  • Of the estimated 1,200 chimpanzees currently held in nine U.S. laboratories, approximately half are government owned or supported.
  • The U.S. government spends $20 – 25 million per year on research, housing and maintenance of chimpanzees in labs.
  • The lifetime care of one chimpanzee costs $300,000 to $500,000.
  • The U.S. is the only remaining country that continues the large-scale use of chimpanzees for invasive research and testing.

Also speaking at the IPS Congress:

Mike Seres, Project R&R Advisory Board member
Debra Durham, Ph.D. and Associate Director, The Kerulos Center

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