Help Move Chimpanzees out of Laboratories and into Sanctuaries

Help Move Chimpanzees out of Laboratories and into Sanctuaries

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Brianna Simmons started this petition to Director of NIH Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives Dr. James Anderson of NIH

Sharing at least ninety-six percent of our DNA, chimpanzees are humans’ closest living relative.  Chimpanzees and humans have genetic similarities, share varying bone structure and functions, and even share the same brain structure and function. Because of this similarity chimpanzees have been used in research since the 1920s. Until 2013, chimpanzees were considered ideal subjects for experimentation.  Chimpanzees have been injected with diseases, used to test medicinal drugs, have had their organ extracted, and have been social isolated from their families in order to help answer scientists’ most daunting questions. In 2013, the Institute of Medicine concluded that invasive experimentation on chimpanzees was largely unnecessary, which later caused the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to retire their chimpanzees from research.  This was a huge win for chimpanzees, lobbyists, and supporters of non-human primates, yet it does not feel like a win. Yes, legislation ended chimpanzee lab experimentation in 2013, but in 2019, chimpanzees are still living in the laboratories. This petition is written by college students of Marymount University to ask the NIH to remove the chimpanzees from the less than ideal laboratory conditions and retire them to sanctuaries in a timely and efficient manner.

It is great that legislation has made biomedical research on chimpanzees illegal, but they have been living in laboratories for so long that it would be dangerous for them to enter the wild. If they cannot go to the wild, then what can they call home? This is where sanctuaries come into play. In 2000, a law was passed for the creation of a national chimpanzee sanctuary called Chimp Haven in Keithville, Louisiana.  The founders of this sanctuary had previously worked with chimpanzees in labs and knew that chimpanzees deserved living in a place that can meet their psychological and physical needs.

It has been eight years since the director of NIH cut all funding for new biomedical research using chimps, and four years since the government began retiring all chimps from research; however, 439 chimps are still held at research institutions according to chimpcare.org.  While the move to sanctuaries is a step in the right direction for the hundreds of chimpanzees used in laboratory research, the process is taking too long. Only 73 chimpanzee over the past two years have been retired to sanctuaries.

The heart of the matter is funding.  Many sanctuaries receive their money from a mix of grants and generous public donations. Some research laboratories insist that chimpanzees are better off staying in research labs than being transported to sanctuaries. Many argue that most chimpanzees are very old and the transportation process will be too stressful for them to handle.  Is the laboratory where chimpanzees experienced traumatic procedures and were subjected to suboptimal conditions better than an outdoor facility big enough to roam, lounge, and socialize with other chimpanzees? We think no!

We are appealing for the NIH Director of NIH Division of Program Coordination, Dr. James Anderson,to take action quickly. They were apart of the problem with using chimpanzees in laboratories, now is there chance to be apart of a solution of justice. They need to not only verbally support the movement of chimpanzees out of labs, but they need to financially support this move as well.

During spring break, we had the opportunity to travel to a chimpanzee sanctuary.  There we were able to see first hand how beneficial sanctuaries are to chimpanzees.  Sanctuaries offer social and cognitive stimulation for chimpanzees. The chimp-centered focus sanctuaries have, helps heal some of the traumatic wounds chimpanzees carry. Many chimpanzees that have been retired to sanctuaries such as the one was visited, still have a long process to undergo to overcome many of the effects of trauma, however they are in the best environment possible to do so.  For many chimpanzees however, this is not the case, as many are doomed to live out the rest of their lives in the laboratories that caused this trauma in the first place due to the lack of urgency from the NIH.

Help Chimpanzees get out of this waiting game in laboratories and into sanctuaries so we can finally say "Game Over"!

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!
At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!