Plans to move nearly 200 chimpanzees to a biomedical research laboratory have been halted, thanks to the work of animal protection organizations, legislators and animal lovers, a decision praised by The Humane Society of the United States.
The 186 government-owned chimpanzees at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico were slated for transfer to the Southwest National Primate Research Center in San Antonio, Texas beginning in the spring of 2011. However, the National Institutes of Health announced on January 4th that the National Academy of Sciences will be conducting a review of chimpanzee research and that the Alamogordo chimpanzees will not be used in invasive research while the review is ongoing.
The chimpanzees, all of whom have undergone decades of invasive research, have not been used for such research in the last 10 years. If they had been moved to the Texas laboratory they could again be used in physically and psychologically harmful experiments.
“The HSUS is very pleased that NIH will not move these chimpanzees while the National Academy of Sciences conducts its study,” said Kathleen Conlee, director of program management for Animal Research Issues at The HSUS. “However, the transfer plan has been faulty from the beginning and we are hopeful that this group of chimpanzees will be permanently retired.”
Since the plans to move the chimps were announced to the public in the summer of 2010, The HSUS, along with Gov. Bill Richardson, Animal Protection of New Mexico, Jane Goodall, and others, have worked with legislators and the public to encourage the NIH to reverse their decision.
Also, more than 25,000 HSUS supporters, several members of Congress and many others weighed in with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. HSUS’ President and CEO Wayne Pacelle joined Gov. Richardson, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Animal Protection of New Mexico at a joint press conference on Nov. 18, urging a halt to the transfer plan. An HSUS-sponsored ad in Washington, D.C-area Metro stations publicized the chimpanzees’ plight as well.
- The decision from NIH also follows a letter from U.S. Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to the National Academy of Sciences requesting the “analysis of current and future need for chimpanzee use in biomedical research.”
- Gov. Richardson also called for a similar review when he met with NIH in August to discuss the fate of the Alamogordo chimpanzees.
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