New Iberia Chimpanzees to Retire to Chimp Haven!
Chimpanzees to be permanently retired beginning January 2013
December 18, 2012
In a reversal of its September 21, 2012 decision, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced that it will retire 106 chimpanzees owned by the federal government that have been housed at the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) to Chimp Haven for permanent retirement. NIH had originally announced that only 10 chimpanzees would be retired to Chimp Haven and the remaining 100 chimpanzees would be transferred to the Texas Biomedical Research Institute to be used for behavioral research or other non-invasive research.
In announcing its decision, NIH acknowledged that they have a moral and legal responsibility to provide care for their chimpanzees. According to NIH Director Francis S. Collins, “These animals have made important contributions to research to improve human health, but new technologies have reduced the need for their continued use in research. We are grateful to all of the organizations that have pulled together to help us transition these animals into formal retirement.”
The first transfer of animals is expected to take place in mid-January and will continue for four months as the animals are moved and introduced to their new homes in small groups. The entire process should take no more than 15 months.
NIH has been working with Chimp Haven and NIRC, along with animal protection organizations, to craft a solution that will more directly benefit the chimpanzees. The solution is a two-part plan to transfer half the animals while Chimp Haven works to construct new facilities for the remaining chimpanzees. NIH does not have funds available for construction costs, but has agreed to provide funding for their care under the terms of the Chimpanzee Health Improvement and Maintenance Protection Act (CHIMP Act). However, all federal funding under the CHIMP Act will reach its cap during the 2013 Fiscal Year. Additional funding urgently needs to be approved by Congress to provide for the lifetime care of these animals.
The $2.3 million cost of new construction will be provided through a fundraising campaign headed by Chimp Haven, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. Money has already been pledged by NAVS, which also contributed significant funding to Chimp Haven at its inception.
Four chimpanzees have been deemed by veterinarians “unsafe” to move at all because of their advanced age and poor health. These animals will remain at NIRC but will not be used for any further research. Eight infant chimpanzees born to NIH-owned animals but owned by NIRC will be released to NIH and will be able to accompany their mothers to sanctuary. In addition, NIRC has agreed to continue to hold the NIH chimpanzees after the expiration of its contract until Chimp Haven is ready to accept all of the animals, hopefully within the next15-months.
The National Anti-Vivisection Society applauds the NIH’s decision and thanks all of our supporters who helped make a case for the permanent retirement of these animals.