End of a Dark Era? National Institutes of Health (NIH) to Retire Most Research Chimps

Published: Jun 27, 2013

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Some of the fine print remains to be translated, but the writing is on the wall for invasive, government-supported chimpanzee research in the United States: At long last, it’s coming to an end. The National Institutes of Health today announced that 310 captive chimpanzees will be retired from medical research. Genetic and behavioral studies may continue in sanctuary settings, but no longer will those chimpanzees be forced to undergo procedures that would be unconscionable if performed in humans. Up to 50 chimpanzees will be kept in reserve for possible use in future medical experiments, a likelihood that disturbs animal welfare advocates. That decision will, however, be revisited every five years. It’s possible that government-supported medical experiments on chimpanzees will come to an end altogether. “Chimpanzees are very special animals. They are our closest relatives,” said NIH director Francis Collins at a press conference. “We believe they deserve special consideration.”

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