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News: Press Releases

Oldest Known Chimpanzee in U.S. Lab to Retire After Half Century

October 12, 2006 • Posted in Press Releases

Campaign Learns of Imminent Release of 54-Year-Old Gwen

Boston, MA—October 12, 2006—She has lived in a laboratory for over a half century. Gwen, a 54-year-old chimpanzee—believed to be the oldest chimpanzee held for research in the U.S.—is to be released into sanctuary this month. She is scheduled to leave New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) and be released to Chimp Haven, a facility in Louisiana that receives 75% of its operating costs from the federal government. Little is publicly known about Gwen except her age and ID number—Ch 428.

News of her expected release came following an inquiry and appeal from Project R&R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories, which fostered inquiries from U.S. Senate offices to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It was also revealed that three other elder chimpanzees have recently died, and that several are now considered “too frail” to withstand transfer.

The CHIMP Act, signed into law in 2000, provides chimpanzees no longer needed for research with retirement rather than allowing euthanasia. Laboratories decide who is eligible for retirement. However, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) can recall “retired” chimpanzees for research if certain criteria are met.

“Gwen’s life in research behind concrete and steel for half a century is tragic,” says Theodora Capaldo, EdD, president of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), which is spearheading Project R&R.

The request for the release of the 12 eldest chimpanzees in U.S. laboratories was made public on September 5th when Project R&R leaders visited Senate offices fueling interest and subsequent inquiries to NIH. That same week certified letters* went to each of the three U.S. laboratories where these chimpanzees are held. The letters were signed by the advisory board of Project R&R, including Jane Goodall, PhD; Roger Fouts, PhD; Gloria Grow; Carole Noon, PhD; and others.

*The certified letter sent to NIRC was unclaimed and returned to Project R&R. All others were received. NIRC has the largest “holding” of captive primates in the world and has been cited multiple times for non-compliance with the Animal Welfare Act.

Contact: NEAVS, 617-523-6020, ext. 17

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