NIH Sends Almost One-Fifth of Its Research Chimpanzees Into Retirement

The National Institutes of Health has retired 110 chimpanzees of a total of 563

Image Credit: Nils Rinaldi via Flickr

The National Institutes of Health has retired 110 chimpanzees of a total of 563 in its chimp research lab. The Washington Post reports that animal activists are pleased by the move:

“We’re very pleased. It’s a good number; 110 is a large number to retire,” said Wayne A. Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, which advocates ending all invasive medical research on chimpanzees.

 In 2009, the group released a video made at New Iberia documenting what Pacelle calls unacceptable treatment of chimpanzees. “Some of the chimps had gone mad; they were obviously emotionally disturbed from long-term isolation and throwing themselves around cages,” Pacelle said. The video also showed chimpanzees being anaesthetized with dart guns and falling from tables onto the floor.

 The NIH isn’t giving up on chimpanzee research entirely. In the same article, NIH director Francis Collins said that some animals would be kept for research in the event of extenuating circumstances, such as an outbreak that affects both chimpanzees and humans.

Ten chimpanzees of the 110 will be moved to a sanctuary in Louisiana, while the other 100 will go into a semi-retirement in the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio. Scientific American reported that while these 100 “will be off limits for invasive research but accessible for behavioral studies and research using information collected through routine veterinary care.”


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