This week’s Take Action Thursday urges action to encourage the NIH to approve the transfer of chimpanzees from research facilities to the accredited federal chimpanzee sanctuary.
In 2015, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) determined that all NIH-owned and supported chimpanzees were eligible to be retired to Chimp Haven, the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary. The NIH owns or supports 504 chimpanzees. Currently, Chimp Haven houses 232 of these animals, leaving 272 animals still in the care of research facilities.
These facilities have claimed that the chimpanzees are better left in familiar surroundings and that moving chronically ill animals would be a mistake. Chimp Haven, along with animal advocates who supported the creation of a national chimpanzee sanctuary and continue to provide financial backing for the care of animals, believe that life in a sanctuary is in the best interests of the animals.
A National Institutes of Health Council of Councils Working Group on Assessing the Safety of Relocating At-Risk Chimpanzees recently undertook a review of the issue of whether chimpanzees—who are no longer being used for research—should be relocated to Chimp Haven or should remain at the facilities that once used them as research subjects.
The working group’s report, which was released in May, recommended that all chimpanzees, except those whose lives would be endangered by the move, should be relocated to Chimp Haven.
The Working Group made the following specific recommendations:
- All chimpanzees should be moved unless relocation is “extremely likely to shorten their lives.”
- The NIH should oversee the development of standardized approaches for assessing each chimpanzee.
- Information should be reviewed using the same health and behavioral consideration and veterinary records should be shared between sending and receiving facilities (i.e. Chimp Haven).
- Sending and receiving facilities should collaborate to help at-risk chimpanzees.
- Facilities should develop shared relocation standard operating procedures for relocating chimpanzees.
- When facilities disagree about relocation, an independent expert veterinary opinion should be consulted.
The NIH is soliciting comments on these very positive recommendations, due by August 10, before making their final decision. The NIH has been a champion in promoting the interests of chimpanzees once used in research. This report is no exception, ensuring that many more chimpanzees will soon be celebrating their freedom at Chimp Haven.
Please applaud the NIH’s efforts to do what is right for hundreds of chimpanzees once used in research and direct these research facilities to send their animals to Chimp Haven as soon—and as safely—as possible.
NOTE: Comments must be submitted directly to the National Institutes of Health through the link above, which will take you to an online form on their website. Language that reflects your own opinions is more effective than language copied from prepared comments from any organization.