A Window of Hope
The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (GAPCSA) is federal legislation pending in both houses of Congress that would end the use of great apes in research. Introduced in the House of Representatives in April of 2011, GAPCSA has gained the support of over 193 members of Congress. Throughout 2012 NAVS worked tirelessly, meeting with and contacting congressional members in an attempt to convince them that research on great apes is no longer necessary. The most humane solution would be to now retire the remaining chimpanzees to sanctuaries where they would live out the balance of their lives in a more natural setting. While recent negotiations have resulted in a bill that will no longer phase out the use of great apes in research, the proposed changes to the bill still recognize that great apes should not be used for invasive research. Although research would be permitted under more stringent criteria for the approval of any specific protocol, the bill has the potential to greatly reduce the number of great apes used by the federal government and by private industry. NAVS continues to support this bill because it moves towards an end to research on great apes, even if it is not the perfect end we would like to see.
As most of you know, chimpanzees are thought of as an “endangered” species. What you may not know is that only chimpanzees in the wild are categorized as endangered. Chimpanzees in captivity are categorized as “threatened.” Being classified as “threatened" and subject to a special rule allows for research to be conducted on them. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the federal agency charged with “classifying” animals, is considering changing the status of chimpanzees held in captivity from threatened to endangered. No research can be conduced on endangered species. NAVS submitted comments to FWS on behalf of thousands of NAVS’ supporters recommending that all chimpanzees be classified as endangered thus ending research on them once and for all.
In April of 2012, NAVS submitted comments to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) working group charged with determining the status of current research on chimpanzees. Early next year, this group will report on the current status of research and recommend whether research on specific chimpanzees should be continued in the future. NAVS proposed that all chimpanzees currently housed in research be retired to sanctuaries as they are no longer a viable research tool.
With your on-going support, NAVS will continue to promote permanent retirement for chimpanzees currently in research labs across the country. But we need your help. 2013 will be a pivotal year in determining the future of chimpanzees in research for years to come.