April 30, 2007 • Posted in Letter to the Editor
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Project R&R’s response
Your report of $10M of taxpayers’ money earmarked for Yerkes (April 24th), in which researchers will compare aging in nonhuman primates to aging humans, is an example of creating reasons to keep chimpanzees in laboratories even while their use has little or no true benefit to human health and well being. The study and its government granted support would be most welcome if those funds were dedicated only to investigating the 400 women who will be enrolled but 50 non-human primates, including 25 chimpanzees, will be used too.
Many scientists agree that it is unethical to confine chimpanzees and to experiment upon them. Many, specifically in aging research, feel no need to use them at all preferring to concentrate on more productive inquiries using people, rather than a different species altogether. And even scientists who do comparative research between species address ethical objections by using post-mortem material from chimpanzees in zoos and retirement, such as those involved in the Great Ape Aging Project.
71% of Americans believe aging chimpanzees in labs should be retired. At Yerkes many have endured decades of confinement and/or invasive procedures. Even the National Advisory Council on Aging states, “There is no scientific demand for a center for aging chimpanzees.” The NIA in awarding this grant, and Yerkes Primate Center in soliciting and accepting it, are derelict in their duties to the American people especially our society’s elders, who stand to benefit from better science than this, and those chimpanzees who still languish at Yerkes despite their age and well-deserved retirement.
Chimpanzees Wenka, Cheeta, Lulu and Maxine at Yerkes have been in a lab since the 1950s—shockingly cruel life sentences. They and others deserve retirement and to not be part of unnecessary research in their likely few remaining years of life.
Jarrod Bailey, PhD