Needs of Chimpanzees Retired from Research Included in Budget
Careful review of the President’s proposed FY 2014 budget revealed good news for retired research chimpanzees – language that fixes the cap currently placed on federal spending under the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection (CHIMP) Act. The CHIMP Act, enacted in 2000, provides chimpanzees that are "no longer needed" in the biomedical research industry lifetime care in a sanctuary system. One limitation of the CHIMP Act, however, is that funding for the care of the animals and for the construction and renovation of sanctuary facilities was capped at $30 million – a cap that is expected to be reached this July.
As you may already know, NAVS has been a vocal proponent of the retirement of chimpanzees involved in biomedical research from the first introduction of the CHIMP Act to submitting comments on a recent report from the NIH on the need for chimpanzees in research. As recently as January 2013, the Working Group on the Use of Chimpanzees in NIH-Supported Research recommended to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that “The majority of NIH-owned chimpanzees should be designated for retirement and transferred to the federal sanctuary system.” Should the NIH accept this recommendation, then considerable funding would be required to care for chimpanzees currently housed at the federal sanctuary, Chimp Haven, as well as hundreds more chimpanzees now slated for retirement. Chimp Haven, as well as other sanctuaries qualified to accept retired chimpanzees, would need to expand to accommodate these chimpanzees and provide them with ethologically appropriate physical and social environments. However, because of the current cap on the CHIMP Act, the NIH would not be able to contribute funds for this purpose.
Fortunately, President Obama took the needs of these chimpanzees into consideration when preparing the FY 2014 budget. Section 218, located in the Budget’s Appendix, would permit “Funds provided to the National Institutes of Health in this and subsequent acts may be used to support the Sanctuary System for Surplus Chimpanzees authorized by section 404K of the Public Health Service Act, including for the construction, renovation, and funding of current or additional facilities of the sanctuary system as authorized by section 404K, notwithstanding the limitations in subsection (g) of such section.”
NAVS applauds the President’s inclusion of this provision in his proposed budget which, if passed, would ensure that anticipated transfers of hundreds of chimpanzees from research facilities to a sanctuary can go forward as soon as is practicable. Whatever the outcome of the final budget approval, it is hopeful that this provision will survive as a frugal reallocation of funds from the NIH to Chimp Haven and other sanctuary facilities that will provide the lifetime care that these chimpanzees deserve.