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Chronology of Scientific Use of Chimpanzees in the U.S.*

August 28, 2012 • Posted in Fact Sheets and More

1900 1 to 5 million chimpanzees inhabit the rainforests of West and Central Africa.

1923 Psychobiologist Robert Yerkes, Ph.D. purchases two young chimpanzees, Chim and Panzee. Both die within a year. He then purchases young Bill and Dwina and, in 1925, obtains Pan and Wendy from a sailor in Boston. These four chimpanzees serve as the beginning of Yerkes’s laboratory research in Florida, becoming the first of thousands of chimpanzees to be used by U.S. vivisectors.

1930 Yerkes obtains support from Yale University and several foundations to establish the first chimpanzee laboratory. The Florida facility is named the Yale Laboratories of Primate Biology.

1941 In honor of Yerkes’s retirement, Yale renames their facility the Yerkes Laboratory of Primate Biology. The name is eventually changed to the Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Yerkes).

1950s The U.S. Air Force acquires 65 young, wild-caught chimpanzees and establishes an aeronautical research facility at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

1956 After Yerkes’s death, Emory University assumes ownership of the Yerkes laboratory. Using federal funding, Emory moves the Florida facility to its campus in Atlanta, Georgia.

1960 U.S. Congress enacts the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Regional Primate Research Centers, establishing eight NIH-funded facilities.

1960s The U.S. Air Force ends its use of chimpanzees. Many Air Force chimpanzees are leased to medical schools and other labs for use in painful and lethal experiments.

Washoe, raised as a human child, becomes the first of more than 10 chimpanzees to be part of cross-fostering language experiments.

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is enacted to provide some protection for animals in research.

1969 Science publishes the article “Teaching Sign Language to a Chimpanzee” by Gardner and Gardner. Evidence presented in the article that chimpanzees can learn a human language and communicate their emotions establishes profound ethical arguments against their use in harmful research.

1973 The Endangered Species Act is passed. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is signed by 167 countries.

1975 Chimpanzees are listed as an endangered species and can no longer be freely removed from Africa. Chimpanzees in captivity in the U.S. are down-listed to “threatened,” allowing for their continued use in research.

1981 Toxicologist Frederick Coulston, Ph.D., establishes the White Sands Research Center (later renamed the Coulston Foundation), a biomedical research laboratory in New Mexico. For nearly 20 years, Coulston conducts invasive experiments on chimpanzees. Coulston is cited for multiple violations of the AWA after many chimpanzees and other primates die as a result of substandard care and neglect. Coulston eventually houses 650 chimpanzees, the world’s largest holding.

1985 The U.S. amends the AWA to include requirements for “psychological enrichment” for nonhuman primates. It mandates minimum cage size (5’x 5’x 7’ for chimpanzees) and requires enrichment. In reality, the AWA has minimal effect on the safety and well-being of animals in research. However, the 1985 Amendment sets a precedent that psychological experiences of nonhuman species merit consideration, even though the Amendment is substandard and ineffectively implemented and enforced.

1986 Dr. Jane Goodall, Ph.D., a British primatologist, publishes The Chimpanzees of Gombe, detailing her field observations of free-living chimpanzees at Gombe National Park in Tanzania. Dr. Goodall’s work, which began in 1960, observes chimpanzees in their natural environment, documenting their intricate relationships and tool-making skills. Her work earns her an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University and sets the stage for a new understanding of humans and other great apes.

NIH establishes the Chimpanzee Breeding and Research Program designed to produce greater numbers of chimpanzees to be used in HIV/AIDS research.

1995 ABC News’s 20/20 airs a program about the morality of research on chimpanzees, featuring Booee, a former language-studies chimpanzee who was transferred to a medical research lab in 1982. The program broadcasts a reunion after a 13-year separation between Booee and Dr. Roger Fouts, Ph.D., of Central Washington University’s Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI). Millions of viewers watch, overwhelmed, as Booee recognizes and ecstatically greets Dr. Fouts. The program results in such massive public outcry that five months later Booee and eight other laboratory chimpanzees are released to a sanctuary in California.

NIH acknowledges a “surplus” of chimpanzees for research. A panel is assembled to assess the problem. A voluntary breeding moratorium is initiated on chimpanzees owned/supported by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a division of NIH.

1996 The U.S. Air Force permanently divests itself of its 141 chimpanzees. Congress stipulates that the chimpanzees may go to qualified bidders for research or retirement. Though primate sanctuaries submit bids, 111 chimpanzees are awarded to the Coulston Foundation where they are used in experiments and for breeding. Only 30 Air Force chimpanzees are retired (to Primarily Primates, Inc., a sanctuary in Texas).

Jerom, a chimpanzee infected with HIV at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, is the first and only chimpanzee to die of an AIDS-related syndrome. After his death, Jerom’s blood is injected into other chimpanzees with no resulting disease. The failure to generate AIDS in chimpanzees after more than a decade of research leads to a sharp decline in HIV studies on chimpanzees.

1997 The Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP) under New York University closes. NYU gives 225 chimpanzees and other primates to Coulston. Efforts by LEMSIP’s director, Dr. James Mahoney, DVM, PhD, save 109 chimpanzees and more than 100 monkeys from going to Coulston.

The Fauna Foundation in Montreal, Canada becomes the first sanctuary in North America to receive HIV-infected chimpanzees, rescuing 15 from LEMSIP. Over time it is revealed that HIV is no longer detectable in their blood.

The National Research Council, a division of NIH, issues a report titled Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use, which acknowledges that a higher ethical standard should be applied to chimpanzees and imposes a breeding moratorium at all NIH-supported research facilities.

The British government declares that it will no longer issue new licenses for procedures using great apes in biomedical research.

1999 The Coulston Foundation, already a notorious chimpanzee breeding and research facility, falls under increasing scrutiny for multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Standards for Good Laboratory Practice. Financial problems escalate as contractors withdraw.

After a protracted lawsuit with the U.S. government, 21 former Air Force chimpanzees are removed from Coulston and awarded sanctuary at the Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care (now called Save the Chimps).

2000 The New Zealand Animal Welfare Act becomes law and great apes are banned from use in research, testing, or teaching.

The U.S. passes the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection (CHIMP) Act. The CHIMP Act provides for retirement and lifetime care of chimpanzees not in active protocols and prohibits breeding in federal retirement and euthanasia for the convenience of a lab. However, it still allows for “retired” chimpanzees to be recalled back into research.

Only an estimated 150,000 chimpanzees remain in the rainforests of Africa.

2001 The Netherlands begins to phase out (eventually to ban) harmful research on chimpanzees.

Pablo is the first of the LEMSIP (NYU’s Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates) chimpanzees that had been rescued by Fauna Foundation to die. Born in Africa, Pablo’s mother and family were killed in order to capture him. He was used in research his entire life, including being one of the first to be infected with HIV at LEMSIP. He enjoyed only four years of sanctuary.

NIH awards 287 of the Coulston chimpanzees and a $43 million management contract to Charles River Laboratories, Inc., a major breeder, importer, and supplier of primates and other animals for laboratories.

2002 The Coulston Foundation declares bankruptcy and collapses. The laboratory is renamed the Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF), where the aforementioned 287 chimpanzees remain under the care of Charles River Laboratories. An additional 266 chimpanzees formerly owned by Coulston are rescued by anthropologist Dr. Carole Noon, Ph.D., founder of Save the Chimps—the largest rescue on behalf of captive chimpanzees in history. 

Annie, one of the first chimpanzees captured in Africa and brought to the U.S., dies at the age of 42. She was used in entertainment and later in research at LEMSIP. She was also part of a program with the Primate Foundation of Arizona to breed more chimpanzees for research. Her wise and gentle nature earned her the position of matriarch at Fauna Foundation; which had rescued her in 1997.

The Dutch government prohibits testing on chimpanzees after the end of trials in progress. The ban also applies to bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas. The Dutch Parliament votes unanimously to disband the last chimpanzee population used for research in Europe, which was located at the Biomedical Primate Research Center in the Netherlands. Chimpanzees are retired from the center in 2004.

2003 Dr. John Strandberg, M.D., Director of Comparative Medicine at NIH, acknowledges in a public forum that a U.S. ban on chimpanzee research would come as no surprise to him, due to changing public attitudes.

Sweden bans the use of great apes in biomedical research, including a ban on the “lesser apes,” gibbons.

2004 An estimated 1,300 chimpanzees remain at six federally-funded research facilities. Many are not being used in active protocols but remain “warehoused” in laboratory confinement.

The New Mexico District Attorney files charges against NIH-owned Alamagordo Primate Facility (APF) and its contractor, Charles River Laboratories, for alleged neglect and abandonment resulting in the deaths of two chimpanzees.

In the Netherlands, the Biomedical Primate Research Center officially stops conducting research on chimpanzees. The 160 remaining at the time of its closing are “retired” and placed in zoos and sanctuaries throughout Europe.

2005 Austria amends its animal protection laws to forbid experiments on all great apes, including all eight species of gibbons, making it the fifth country to do so.

The first group of chimpanzees retired under the U.S. CHIMP Act arrives at Chimp Haven, the contractor of the national chimpanzee sanctuary system.

Donna Rae dies at Fauna after only 8 years in sanctuary. At the age of 12, after a childhood in entertainment, she was walked into her cage at LEMSIP. She would spend 19 years in a 5’x 5’x 7’ cage before she being rescued.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiates an investigation of the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) for alleged AWA violations against chimpanzees, which came to light in a lawsuit filed by a former NIRC employee.

The USDA fines Emory University and their affiliated Yerkes National Primate Research Center $1,375 for violations of the AWA due to the 2004 death of a chimpanzee named Dover.

The Humane Society of the United States files a lawsuit against the USDA for not responding to Freedom of Information Act requests from 2000 to 2004. The Department of Justice eventually orders the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service department to resume online posting of annual reports for U.S. research facilities.

During the 5th World Congress on Alternatives & Animal Use in the Life Sciences, national and international animal protection organizations, along with Dr. Jane Goodall, sign a resolution calling for an end to the use of nonhuman primates in biomedical research and testing.

A Brazilian judge recognizes Suíça the chimpanzee as a legal subject in a proceeding seeking her release from a zoo to a sanctuary. Although Suíça passes away before her release, the decision marks the first time a nonhuman species has been admitted as a legal subject in a court action.

Genome sequencing of DNA from a chimpanzee named Clint reveals similarities — humans are considered 96 percent similar to chimpanzees — and also critical differences between humans and nonhuman primates. Clint passes away at Yerkes before the sequencing is completed.

2006 NEAVS officially launches Project R&R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories, a national campaign to end the use of the first nonhuman species, chimpanzees, and therefore all great apes, in U.S. labs.

PBS begins its 25th season of Nature with a premiere showing of Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History by Allison Argo, a documentary that provides a first-hand glimpse into the lives of former laboratory chimpanzees who are now in sanctuary.

Ohio State University closes its primate research lab and relocates nine chimpanzees to Primarily Primates.

The only remaining Japanese pharmaceutical company conducting invasive research on chimpanzees sends its 80 chimpanzees to sanctuary.

Two Swiss federal commissions call for tighter regulations on primate experimentation, including a total ban on tests involving great apes because of their high level of cognitive faculties.

The APF announces that it will be closing in 2010, transferring ownership of its chimpanzees to the federal government. Of its 73 chimpanzees, 69 will be sent to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. Only four are scheduled for sanctuary.

Ohio State University closes its primate research lab and relocates nine chimpanzees to Primarily Primates, Inc. (PPI). Several months later, PPI, which has approximately 70 chimpanzees, is put under receivership by the Texas Attorney General. The investigation results in the establishment of a new board of directors.

The Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care puts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on probation for problems in animal care. One chimpanzee, for example, underwent 10 liver needle biopsy attempts—more than three is a violation of CDC regulations.

A federal appeals court overrules a lower court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit against the USDA. The lawsuit was aimed at getting the USDA to improve current minimum standards of care for nonhuman primates. Current regulations—in effect since 1991—are considered inadequate and ineffective by most primate experts.

The only remaining Japanese pharmaceutical company conducting invasive research on chimpanzees sends its 80 chimpanzees to sanctuary.

Billy Jo, a beloved chimpanzee at Fauna sanctuary, passes away at age 37. Billy was the subject of a paper on identity confusion and depression in chimpanzees used in research.

2007 The Parliament of the Balearic Islands, one of the Autonomous Communities of Spain, announces its approval of a resolution to grant legal rights to great apes. The resolution is also presented to the Spanish government.

The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a division of NIH, announces that they will no longer fund the breeding of NCRR-owned chimpanzees for research, thus rendering the breeding moratorium first initiated in 1995 permanent.

Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History wins an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft for Research.

Chimpanzee Research: An Examination of Its Contribution to Biomedical Knowledge and Efficacy in Combating Human Diseases, a report commissioned by Project R&R, is released. The report concludes that research conducted on chimpanzees has not demonstrated a significant or essential contribution towards treating or curing human diseases, but instead has incurred considerable animal welfare, ethical, and financial costs.

Washoe, the first nonhuman to acquire a human language, passes away at age 42.

The U.S. passes the “Chimp Haven is Home Act,” prohibiting all “retired” chimpanzees in federal sanctuary from ever being returned to research. This law secures the original intent of the 2000 CHIMP Act—to provide chimpanzees with permanent protection from research.

Fauna mourns the loss of Jeannie, who died at age 31. Jeannie, along with Rachel, also at Fauna, was the focus of a paper on posttraumatic stress in chimpanzees used in research. Despite meticulous physical and emotional care, Jeannie never fully recovered from her life in a lab.

An Austrian court denies the right of a chimpanzee, Hiasl, to have a legal guardian. Hiasl had been rescued some 20 years earlier during an illegal attempt to send him to a research laboratory. Hiasl instead went to sanctuary, but when the sanctuary faced bankruptcy, Paula Stibbe of Britain sought to prevent Haisl’s transfer to a zoo by applying to be his legal guardian.

Yerkes NPRC is awarded a $10 million federal grant to compare how mental abilities decline in aging humans, chimpanzees, and rhesus macaques. The study includes human subjects.

Emory University is assessed a $15,000 civil penalty for AWA violations that occurred at Yerkes in 2006.

A new chimpanzee sanctuary, Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, prepares to welcome its first seven residents. These residents were the last remaining chimpanzees held by the Buckshire Corporation, a private laboratory in Pennsylvania with a long history of using chimpanzees.

The New York Blood Center (NYBC) closes its Vilab II primate research facility in Liberia. NYBC purchased more than six islands off the coast of Liberia as sanctuary for its 74 chimpanzees. Disputes between NYBC and animal advocacy groups would ensue in later years when the chimpanzees were left to fend for themselves on the islands.

A report by Science reveals that the U.S. is the last country still conducting biomedical research on chimpanzees, with some 1,100 chimpanzees still in U.S. research facilities.

The European Coalition to End Animal Experiments calls for the European Commission and Parliament to implement a ban on the use of primates, including all great apes and wild-caught primates, in research.

2008 Developmental Context Effects on Bicultural Posttrauma Self Repair in Chimpanzees is published in Developmental Psychology. The scientific article, authored by Gay Bradshaw, PhD, PhD, NEAVS/Project R&R President Theodora Capaldo, EdD, NEAVS Vice President Lorin Lindner, PhD, MPH, and Gloria Grow, Founder and Director of the Fauna Foundation and Project R&R Honorary Co-Chair, focuses on early history as a factor in recovery from laboratory trauma.

On April 17, bipartisan legislators introduced The Great Ape Protection Act (H.R.5852) to end invasive research and testing on chimpanzees in the U.S. The bill would retire all federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuary. U.S. Representatives Edolphus Towns (D-NY), David Reichert (R-WA), James Langevin (D-RI), and Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) introduced the legislation, along with original cosponsors Bruce Braley (D-IA), Tom Allen (D-ME), John Campbell (R-CA), and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA).

A scientific paper, Building an Inner Sanctuary: Complex PTSD in Chimpanzees, is published in Vol. 9(1) of the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation. The paper reveals how psychological suffering crosses species lines by demonstrating that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) afflicts chimpanzees from laboratories in the same way as it does human trauma survivors. The paper was written by Gay Bradshaw, PhD, PhD, NEAVS/Project R&R President Theodora Capaldo, EdD, NEAVS Vice President Lorin Lindner, PhD, MPH, and Gloria Grow, Founder and Director of the Fauna Foundation and Project R&R Honorary Co-Chair.

On June 13, Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW) in Cle Elum, Washington welcomes their first residents, chimpanzees Annie, Negra, Missy, Jody, Jamie, Burrito, and Foxie—the last remaining chimpanzees from the Buckshire Corporation lab in Pennsylvania, which closed in 2005.

In August, NEAVS/Project R&R President Theodora Capaldo, EdD, presents on a panel at the International Primatological Society 22nd Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Congress hosts hundreds of world experts on primates and research. Dr. Capaldo’s presentation, titled Humane Considerations Regarding the Use of Chimpanzees in Biomedical Research and Testing is part of a precedent-setting symposium that presents on the use of great apes for invasive research and includes science, policy, welfare, and current events. Additional panelists include Gloria Grow, Founder and Director of the Fauna Foundation and Project R&R Honorary Co-Chair (An Overview of Worldwide Sanctuaries with Great Apes from Research Laboratories), and Jarrod Bailey, PhD, Project R&R Science Director (Examining the Efficacy of Chimpanzee Research and Its Contribution to Combating Human Disease), among others. Project R&R Advisory Board member Mike Seres presents on a separate panel on Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) Introductions in Captive Settings: Challenges, Facts, and as Art.

A scientific paper, An Assessment of the Role of Chimpanzees in AIDS Vaccine Research, is published in Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (ATLA), Vol. 36. The paper, written by geneticist Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D., Science Director for Project R&R, concludes that vaccine responses in chimpanzees are not predictive of responses in humans, and that claims of chimpanzees’ critical role and importance in AIDS vaccine development are without foundation.

Project R&R, in collaboration with many of its advisory board member organizations as well as other organizations, submits comments to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding the “Proposed Rules on Standards of Care for Chimpanzees Held in the Federally Supported Chimpanzee Sanctuary System” in 2005. On October 10, 2008, the HHS’ drafted regulations for federal sanctuaries are accepted by NIH and published in the Federal Register (Vol. 73, No. 198). The finalized regulations, which include many of Project R&R’s proposed standards, go into effect on November 10, 2008.

2009 ABC's Nightline News features a nine-month undercover investigation of New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) in Louisiana by HSUS. A 108page complaint filed with the USDA contains 338 alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

The Great Ape Protection Act (GAPA, H.R. 1326) is reintroduced into Congress on March 5th by the bill’s original four lead sponsors: Representatives Towns (D-NY), Reichert (R-WA), Langevin (D-RI), and Bartlett (R-MD). By December 2009, the bill has 125 cosponsors.

A scientific paper, “Developmental Context Effects on Bicultural Post-Trauma Self Repair in Chimpanzees” is published in Developmental Psychology, Vol. 45(5), 1376-1388. The paper documents the emotional trauma chimpanzees suffer as a result of laboratory use and reveals the ethical implications of cross-fostering nonhuman primates and their use in research. The paper was authored by Gay Bradshaw, PhD, PhD, NEAVS/Project R&R President Theodora Capaldo, EdD, Vice President Lorin Lindner, PhD, MPH, and Gloria Grow, Founder/Director, Fauna Foundation and Project R&R Co-Chair.

A scientific paper, “An Examination of Chimpanzee Use in Human Cancer Research” by Project R&R Science Director Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D., is published in Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (ATLA), Vol. 37, 399-416. With chimpanzees proving to be a poor model for human cancer research, the paper concludes that it would be unscientific to claim that chimpanzees are vital to cancer research and reasonable to conclude that such research would not be hindered without chimpanzees.

NEAVS/Project R&R President Theodora Capaldo, EdD, presents on scientific and ethical reasons to end invasive research on chimpanzees to legislators and aides as part of a panel at a Congressional briefing in Washington, D.C.

NEAVS Director of Member Services Jennifer Campbell presents “The Case to End Chimpanzee Research: Scientific, Ethical, and Economic Arguments” at the Taking Action for Animals conference in Washington, D.C.

Project R&R Science Director Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D., presents “The Case to End Chimpanzee Research: Scientific, Ethical, and Economic Arguments” at the VII World Congress on Alternatives & Animal Use in the Life Sciences in Rome, Italy.

NEAVS/Project R&R exhibits a poster presentation on “The Case to End Chimpanzee Research: Scientific, Ethical, and Economic Arguments” at Exploring the Ethical and Scientific Reasons for Congress to pass the Great Ape Protection Act, a Capital Hill multimedia exhibit in Washington, D.C.

Project R&R’s beloved chimpanzee Ambassador, Tom, dies at Fauna at the age of 44. Born in Africa, Tom spent 30 years in research before his rescue by Fauna in 1997.

2010 NEAVS/Project R&R President Theodora Capaldo, EdD, attends a meeting of leaders from the sanctuary community, animal protection organizations, and the zoo community to discuss strategic plans for providing sanctuary to great apes rescued from research once GAPA passes into law. Dr. Capaldo’s presentation, entitled “An Economic Analysis of Chimpanzee Housing and Maintenance in U.S. Laboratories and Sanctuaries,” demonstrates the economic benefits of transferring chimpanzees from federally supported laboratories into sanctuary.

NEAVS/Project R&R President Theodora Capaldo, EdD, presents on ethical concerns of using chimpanzees in research as part of a panel on “Great Ape Research and Retirement: Policy, Ethics, Economics and Science” at the 33rd meeting of the American Society of Primatologists (ASP) in Louisville, Kentucky. The panel, Great Ape Research and Retirement: Policy, Ethics, Economics and Science, was the first time ASP accepted a submission for such a panel dealing with the use and housing of chimpanzees in research and efforts to end their use and retire all chimpanzees to sanctuary.

NIH announces plans to transfer more than 200 government-owned chimpanzees now living at Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF) to the Southwest National Primate Research Center (Southwest) in Texas. Once at Southwest, the remaining chimpanzees will be readily available for invasive research. Since 2001, APF has served as a holding facility run by Charles River Laboratories (CRL) under an NIH contract. No research was conducted on the premises of APF. CRL’s ten-year, $42.8 million dollar contract to manage the chimpanzees is set to expire May 2011.

Fourteen chimpanzees are transferred from APF to Southwest, where they will be available for use in invasive research. The federal government plans to move the rest of the 186 chimpanzees housed at APF to Southwest by early 2011.

NEAVS/Project R&R joins with Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM) in voicing opposition to the transfer of the APF chimpanzees to Southwest. New Mexico (NM) Senator Tom Udall visits APF and requests a meeting with NIH.

NM Governor Bill Richardson declares his support for stopping the transfer of the APF chimpanzees to Texas, stating, “this is an urgent situation … New Mexico wants to save these chimpanzees who have already given so much of their lives to the American public as part of medical research studies.” Media attention and public opposition to NIH’s plan grows and an increasing number of animal advocacy groups, celebrities, and public figures speak out against the transfer, including Dr. Jane Goodall, who sends a letter to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins.

Governor Richardson sends a letter to Dr. Collins, asking NIH to permanently retire the chimpanzees at APF, return the 14 chimpanzees who have already been sent to Southwest, and convert APF into a sanctuary.

NEAVS/Project R&R Science Director Dr. Jarrod Bailey meets with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and several other legislators to explain how supporting GAPA and ending chimpanzee research will not have a negative impact on human health. Dr. Bailey provides the Congress members with abstracts of Project R&R’s scientific papers, along with a list of over 700 scientists who have pledged their support for ending the use of chimpanzees in invasive research, demonstrating impressive scientific support for this legislation.

The Senate version of the Great Ape Protection Act (GAPA, S.3694) is introduced on August 3rd by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), lending bipartisan support to end the use of great apes in invasive research.

Project R&R Science Director Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D., presents “Lessons from chimpanzee-based human disease research: The role of genetic differences, and implications for other animal models” at the Animals, Research & Alternatives: Measuring Progress 50 Years Later conference in Washington, D.C.

Nearly 1,000 scientists and doctors have signed a U.S. petition pledging their support for ending the use of chimpanzees in invasive research, including physicians, Ph.D.s, eminent scientists, and renowned chimpanzee experts such as Dr. Richard Wrangham and Dr. Roger and Ms. Deborah Fouts. In addition, an international petition in direct support of GAPA is signed by luminaries such as Dr. Jane Goodall, Desmond Morris (author of The Naked Ape), and documentary filmmaker and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, as well as dozens of international humane charities and U.S. groups.

NEAVS gives a start-up grant to the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA), an alliance formed by the leaders of seven North American chimpanzee sanctuaries to advance the welfare of captive primates through exceptional sanctuary care, collaboration, and outreach. The launch of NAPSA is dedicated to the late Dr. Carole Noon, founder of Save the Chimps.

A ban on the use of great apes in research in the European Union (EU) was made official on September 8th under the newly adopted revisions for European Directive 86/609/EEC, the EU’s laboratory animal welfare laws. The new Directive will not go into effect until January 2013, giving the EU member states two years to transpose the provisions of the new Directive into national legislation.

Public outrage and media attention regarding NIH’s plan for the APF chimpanzees continues to grow, with news articles appearing in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Albuquerque Journal, Nature, Psychology Today, Scientific American, Discover, Las Cruces Sun-News, Alamogordo Daily News, and The Santa Fe New Mexican. In a letter addressed to NIH, New Mexico State Representative Nate Cote and several other state legislators, as well as the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce, voice their concerns and opposition to the planned transfer.

Governor Richardson visits APF and meets with officials at NIH to urge them to keep the chimpanzees in Texas and to convert APF into a sanctuary. Richardson also states that he believes the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) should do an independent review of policies regarding the use of chimpanzees for medical research.

Through Freedom of Information Act requests to NIH, NEAVS/Project R&R obtains photographs of APF chimpanzees Flo, Danny, Montessa, Heidi, Nicole, and Robbie. At 53, Flo is currently the oldest chimpanzee at APF. Project R&R also learns that 62 chimpanzees have died at APF between 2001 and 2010.

NEAVS/Project R&R Science Director Jarrod Bailey, PhD is interviewed for Defining Person, a feature-length documentary film that explores the implications of the international movement to change the legal status of chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans from property to person.

Scientific papers, “An Assessment of Chimpanzee Use in Hepatitis C Research Past, Present and Future: 1. Validity of the Chimpanzee Model” and “An Assessment of Chimpanzee Use in Hepatitis C Research Past, Present and Future: 2. Alternative Replacement Methods” by Project R&R Science Director Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D., are published in Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (ATLA). These papers, which appear in ATLA Vol. 38(5), 387-418, October, and ATLA Vol. 38(6), 471-494, December, refute the claim that chimpanzees are necessary or useful in hepatitis C research and demonstrate the advances made using non-animal research methods.

Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM) launches a new website,, dedicated to their campaign to stop the transfer of the APF chimpanzees to Southwest. Las Cruces PBS and NPR affiliate, KRWG, air radio and television interviews conducted with people affected by plans to close down APF.

60 Minutes interviews Dr. Jane Goodall and travels with her to the forests of Tanzania where her research with chimpanzees began over 50 years ago. From this episode, 60 Minutes reportedly drew its largest audience in over 10 months and reached nearly 16 million viewers.

NEAVS/Project R&R President Theodora Capaldo, EdD, presents “The S.O.S. of the U.S. Anti-Vivisection Movement: Strategy, Optimism, Success” as part of a panel on anti-vivisection issues, with a focus on efforts to end the use of great apes in the U.S., at the Animal Grantmakers Conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

NEAVS/Project R&R President Theodora Capaldo, EdD and Project R&R Science Director Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D., present in-service education workshops for sanctuary staff and invited guests at Save the Chimps and the Center for Great Apes in Florida. The venue provides an introduction to the scientific and psychological case to end chimpanzee research and retire all chimpanzees to sanctuary.

Governor Richardson files a complaint with the USDA, asking them to stop and investigate the planned transfer of 186 chimpanzees from APF. He is joined by APNM Program Director Laura Bonar during a press release at the Hall of the States in Washington, D.C.

The City of Alamogordo passes a resolution to support “the health, safety and well-being of the chimps at Holloman by keeping them out of invasive research” and APNM reports that “efforts to save the APF chimps are in the running for one of the top ten stories of 2010 in New Mexico!”

Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and Tom Harkin (D-IA) send joint letters to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and NIH, asking NAS to evaluate the value of invasive chimpanzee research by conducting an in-depth analysis, and NIH to not relocate the APF chimpanzees and to prohibit their use in research until NAS’ review is complete.

NEAVS/Project R&R mails thousands of member-signed legislator postcards to federal legislators and sends thousands of supporters a map that illustrates state-by-state the amount of legislative support the Great Ape Protection Act (GAPA) has received throughout the country.

At the close of the 111th Congress, GAPA has 161 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives and six cosponsors in the Senate.

2011 NIH announces that the transfer of the 186 chimpanzees at APF will be delayed “pending an Institute of Medicine (IOM) [the health arm of the NAS] in-depth analysis to reassess the scientific need for the continued use of chimpanzees.” 

NEAVS/Project R&R’s YouTube video, as well as footage of chimpanzees from the Fauna Foundation, airs on CNN’s Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell. The show, which includes an interview with Laura Bonar of APNM, focuses on the recent NIH announcement to stop the transfer of APF chimpanzees to Southwest pending the IOM report outcome.

The IOM releases a report which concludes, “most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is unnecessary.” In response, the NIH accepts the IOM's findings and assembles a Working Group to decide how best to implement changes in regards to current and future chimpanzee use and retirement. NEAVS issues a press release applauding this first step taken by the IOM in ending chimpanzee use in research. 

2012 NEAVS submits comments for two meetings of the NIH's Chimpanzee Working Group to decide how to implement the IOM recommendations for chimpanzees in research. Comments include a nationwide petition of scientists calling for chimpanzee retirement to sanctuary. 

NEAVS and co-petitioners The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance, Save the Chimps, Fauna Foundation, Animal Protection of New Mexico, The Kerulos Center, Senator Bob Smith, and Friends of Washoe submit a Rulemaking Petition—“To Set Criteria for Determining when Chimpanzees are No Longer Needed for Research and Must be Retired and Sent to Sanctuary as Required by the CHIMP Act”—to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passes S.810, the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, out of committee. It becomes open to the full Senate for vote. 

NIH calls 110 NIRC chimpanzees ineligible for future research with initial plans to send 10 to Chimp Haven and transfer 100 to the Texas Biomedical Research Institute’s Southwest National Primate Research Center. NEAVS focuses efforts on ensuring transport of all 110 NIRC chimpanzees to the Chimp Haven sanctuary and pledges a $75,000 matching grant to meet Chimp Haven’s required 10% match to NIH’s 90% for new and completing construction to house all 110 chimpanzees. NIH eventually changes plans and decides to send all chimpanzees to Chimp Haven.

NEAVS’ paper, "A Review of Autopsy Reports on Chimpanzees in or from U.S. Laboratories," is published in Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (ATLA), Volume 40, Issue 5. It reveals that the majority of chimpanzees who have died in labs suffered from significant chronic or incurable illnesses and most often had multi-system diseases that should have made them ineligible for future research on scientific as well as ethical grounds.

2013 The first chimpanzees from NIRC arrive at Chimp Haven.

NIH's Council of Councils recommends nearly all federally owned chimpanzees be retired to sanctuary.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces a proposal to classify all chimpanzees as "Endangered" under the Endangered Species Act, rather than split-listing free-living chimpanzees as endangered and captive chimpanzees as threatened.

NIH announces it will retire nearly 90% of its chimpanzees from biomedical research, though it will keep a “reserve” population of up to 50 for “future potential research.”

2015 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces on June 16, 2015 that it will give the same endangered status and protections to chimpanzees held in captivity as it does their free-living cousins in Africa. The decision goes into effect on September 14, 2015, reversing a decades-long policy that contributed to the inhumane and wasteful use of chimpanzees in biomedical research for humans. 

On November 17, 2015, NIH announces that it will no longer support biomedical research on chimpanzees, rendering all NIH-owned chimpanzees—including the reserve population of 50 it had originally intended to keep for potential future research—eligible for retirement. The U.S. thus became the second to last country to end research on chimpanzees; the only remaining country on earth still using chimpanzees for research is Gabon. To date, however, roughly 577 chimpanzees still reside in laboratories in the United States, still awaiting rescue and retirement to sanctuary.

Also in November, NEAVS and its coalition submitted comments to FWS opposing an export permit for Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Yerkes) "donating" eight chimpanzees to Wingham Wildlife Park (Wingham), an unaccredited U.K. zoo. NEAVS' coalition contends that Yerkes' application contains incorrect representations and fails to disclose information material to FWS's decision. Concerns include Wingham lacking membership in the European Species Survival Program (EEP) for chimpanzees. Further, Yerkes and FWS emails indicate that Yerkes had unsuccessfully applied for a permit before the chimpanzee endangered status uplisting in September 2015. Yerkes now must meet higher restrictions, including a 30-day public comment period.

In a historic ruling on November 3, 2015, Argentine Judge María Alejandra Mauricio declared that Cecilia, a chimpanzee who had spent years living alone in a concrete enclosure at a zoo in Argentina wasn’t a thing, but rather a being who is “subject to nonhuman rights.” Cecilia is ordered to be transferred to the Great Ape Project’s sanctuary in Brazil.

2016 On April 21, 2016, FWS grants Yerkes a permit to export the endangered eight chimpanzees to Wingham Wildlife Park (Wingham), an unaccredited commercial zoo in Kent, England. Thus, on the heels of chimpanzees being uplisted to endangered species status, the FWS fails in its first test to protect these animals and ensure they are afforded the highest level of protection. FWS' decision also sets a dangerous precedent—one that reinforces the continued practice of granting permits for the otherwise illegal use of endangered species based on a ‘pay-to-play’ arrangement—which would have an impact on not only these chimpanzees, but all animals protected under the Endangered Species Act.

On April 25, 2016, in response to the granting of this permit, NEAVS and its coalition files suit against FWS.

On September 14, 2016, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. district court for the District of Columbia, rules that NEAVS and its coalition of chimpanzee experts and sanctuaries lack Constitutional standing to stop the export permit granted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) allowing Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Center to export 7 endangered chimpanzees (originally 8, but one has passed away)—Agatha, Elvira, Faye, Fritz, Lucas, Tara and Georgia—to Wingham Wildlife Park (Wingham), an unaccredited zoo in Kent, England. In the 58-page decision, Judge Jackson was critical of USFWS's decision to allow Yerkes to export the chimpanzees based on a promise by Yerkes and Wingham to donate money to an organization to start a conservation program. She stated that the Endangered Species Act, which requires the agency to find that the export of the endangered species will "enhance the survival" of the species "does not say" that USFWS may authorize the export of endangered species under such circumstances and that "FWS's broad interpretation appears to thwart the dynamic of environmental protection that Congress plainly intended when it mandated that no export of endangered species be allowed unless the agency permits such export pursuant to certain specified circumstances."  The Judge further stated that This Court considers doubtful FWS's insistence that, when Congress penned Section 10(a) it intended to authorize the agency to 'sell' its permits in this fashion."

Chimpanzee and conservation experts around the world had warned USFWS that the proposed arrangement, by which Yerkes would be allowed to export the chimpanzees for commercial exploitation in exchange for money donated to an undefined conservation project, sets a dangerous precedent for the commercialization of all endangered species. Dr. Richard Wrangham anthropologist, Harvard professor, and founder of the Kibale Chimpanzee Project, who has worked with chimpanzees in the field in Africa for more than 40 years, was "…completely shocked and appalled this export will continue even in light of our warnings that allowing this deal will undercut our already difficult task for fending off the further commercialization of great apes, and particularly the black market in infant chimpanzees taken from the wild for the pet and exhibition trade."

Individuals and organizations that submitted comments to USFWS opposing the export also included: Dr. Richard Leakey, Chairman, Kenya Wildlife Service and United Nations Great Apes Survival Partnership Ambassador (GRASP); Doug Cress, Executive Director, GRASP: Michele L. Stumpe, Esq., Chair, Pan African Sanctuary Alliance; the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums; the British and Irish Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance and many other U.S. and worldwide experts.

Though ultimately these chimpanzees were exported to the Wingham zoo, and now live on display, NEAVS remains confident that Judge Jackson's harsh words condemning the actions of FWS and the national attention brought by this case to the problems of standing and pay-to-play will help to lay critical groundwork for future animal advocacy efforts to protect not just endangered species, but all nonhuman animals.


*With reference to relevant international events.

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