Animal Organizations and Scientists Urge Congress to Protect Our Closest Living Relatives
A bi-partisan group in Congress today introduced The Great Ape Protection Act to end invasive research and testing on an estimated 1,200 chimpanzees remaining in U.S. laboratories. The bill would also retire approximately 600 federally owned chimpanzees currently in laboratories—many for more than 40 years already—to permanent sanctuary. U.S. Representatives Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), David Reichert (R-Wash.), Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), and Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) introduced the legislation, along with Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Tom Allen (D-Maine), John Campbell (R-Calif.) and Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) also as original cosponsors.
According to Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, “The remarkable cognitive ability of chimpanzees makes this an urgent moral issue requiring immediate action in Congress.”
Theodora Capaldo, Ed.D., president and executive director of NEAVS’ Project R&R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories, adds, “With passage of this bill, the United States will join other scientifically advanced nations that have already banned or severely limited the use of chimpanzees, and all great apes, in research. It’s the right thing to do. It’s time.”
“I have always been a strong supporter of animal protection,” said Congressman Towns. “This legislation is an important step towards protecting chimpanzees from inhumane treatment.”
Congressman Reichert added, “I’m excited to bring this bill to the attention of the House with hopes of phasing out the inhumane and unproductive practice of invasive research on great apes.”
The bill is supported by The Humane Society of the United States and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society’s Project R&R along with other organizations and world-renowned chimpanzee experts and leaders. The HSUS Chimps Deserve Better Campaign and NEAVS’ Project R&R have spearheaded efforts to educate the public about the use of chimpanzees in research and testing, drawing unprecedented support for this bill not only from the public but also from more than 300 scientists, physicians, and educators.
The U.S. is the largest remaining user of chimpanzees in biomedical research in the world. England, Sweden, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Austria, and Japan have banned or limited their use. The cost to U.S. taxpayers for chimpanzee research and maintenance is estimated at $20–25 million per year, money that many in the scientific community believe could be allocated to more effective research.
“As a scientist who worked with chimpanzees on research projects, I believe the time has come to limit invasive research on these animals and rigorously apply existing alternatives,” stated Congressman Bartlett.
Time is running out for chimpanzees in U.S. laboratories. A survey conducted in 2005 by an independent polling company found that 71 percent of the American public agrees that chimpanzees held in a laboratory for 10 years or more should be retired and that Americans are twice as likely to support a ban as to oppose it.
“I am so proud to be a sponsor of this legislation,” said Congressman Langevin. “I am moved by the sophisticated social and emotional capacity chimpanzees exhibit and believe we have an obligation to do all we can to protect their welfare.”
The HSUS and NEAVS’ Project R&R are encouraged by the strong, receptive support legislators are giving this bill.
April 17, 2008: The Great Ape Protection Act introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Towns, Reichert, Langevin and Bartlett with four co-sponsors.
December 2007: An amendment to the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act to provide permanent retirement to chimpanzees determined to be no longer needed for research passed Congress. President Bush signed it into law on December 26, 2007.
October 2007: The HSUS launched its Chimps Deserve Better Campaign.
May 2007: The National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health permanently ended funding for breeding of government-owned chimpanzees for research.
April 2006: Project R&R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories, a national campaign of the 113-year-old New England Anti-Vivisection Society, launched in Atlanta, which is home to the first dedicated chimpanzee laboratory.
April 2005: The federally funded national chimpanzee sanctuary system, run by Chimp Haven, took in its first chimpanzee residents, adding to the hundreds of chimpanzees already retired in privately funded chimpanzee sanctuaries in the U.S. and Canada, including Save the Chimps and Fauna Foundation.
December 2000: The CHIMP Act, a bill to create a federally funded national sanctuary system for the retirement of chimpanzees following their use in research, became public law. This law also conferred special moral status to chimpanzees by prohibiting killing them as a matter of convenience to laboratories.
- Of the estimated 1,200 chimpanzees in nine U.S. laboratories, approximately half are government owned or supported.
- The government spends $20–25 million per year on care of chimps in laboratories. The lifetime care of one chimpanzee costs $300,000 to $500,000.
- Approximately 150 chimps have been retired to the federally funded national chimpanzee sanctuary system. Approximately 500 more chimps previously used in research—including military, air and space research—reside at private sanctuaries in North America.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization———backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty. On the web at The Humane Society of the United States.
Project R&R is a national campaign of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), one of the country’s oldest animal protection organizations, founded in 1895. NEAVS focuses on replacing animal experiments in laboratories and classrooms with ethically and scientifically better and more humane alternatives.