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‘Retired’ Chimpanzees in Danger

Written by PETA | July 14, 2010
Thomas Lersch / CC by 3.0

Update: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has written to National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins urging him to scrap plans to transfer more than 200 “retired” chimpanzees from the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico to the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research laboratory in Texas. He has also requested the return of 15 chimpanzees who have already been transferred.

“New Mexico wants to save these chimpanzees, who have already given so much of their lives to the American public as part of medical research studies,” says the governor. “There is a compassionate and prudent alternative to the National Center for Research Resources’ plan, and I feel strongly that we must save the chimpanzees.”

Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico is also working hard to ensure that the chimpanzees are spared from further experiments. Stay tuned for more updates.

The folks at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) must have had their fingers crossed behind their backs when they “retired” 288 chimpanzees—who had previously been used in Air Force gravity experiments—to the Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF) in New Mexico. I say this because NIH has now decided to “unretire” the surviving chimpanzees (more than 21 have died in the decade they’ve spent warehoused in cages at APF, including three who died by electrocution because of unsafe conditions). The animals will be sent to the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) laboratory in Texas, where they will likely be subjected to cruel experiments.

SFBR might sound familiar to readers of this blog because it is the same laboratory where two baboons escaped from cages in May and attacked two employees. PETA filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which then cited SFBR for failure to handle animals in a manner that does not cause trauma or physical harm as well as failure to provide animals with adequate and safe housing. SFBR had previously been cited twice—in 2009 and in February of this year—for failure to house animals in structurally sound enclosures in order to prevent them from escaping and injuring themselves and others. In one incident, a monkey escaped from a cage, got outside into the freezing cold, suffered from hypothermia, and later was euthanized as a result.

SFBR’s “punishment” for these offenses? It gets more than 200 chimpanzees to confine, scare, poke, and prod.

Half of the chimpanzees at APF have been living in cages for at least a quarter of a century. As PETA Vice President Kathy Guillermo wrote today in a letter to NIH, it’s time to truly retire these primates to a sanctuary, rather than sending them back to a laboratory where they are sure to endure tremendous physical and psychological trauma, possibly for the rest of their lives—which could last another quarter century or more.

Please take a minute to send your own letter to APF and let it know that “retirement” means living the rest of your life free from stress (and not confined to a cage).

Written by Alisa Mullins

Commenting is closed.
  • Tim says:

    Chimpanzees are on the endanger species list are they not? This is against the law isnt it? To do deadly experiments on an endangered animal.

  • rachel says:

    i can’t stand it! please God don’t let that happen. i have been sick for years and disabled by it but i am vehemently opposed to animal research.

  • Andrea says:

    How can we do that to the animals that are closest to us genetically?We might as well be doing it to people at humans would deserve it.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    I recently saw a t.v. program in which one of Michael Jackson’s sisters went to visit Bubbles where he was incarcerated for the crime of growing too large and becoming too strong for Michael Jackson to handle. I will always remember how in the years before he had human children how Michael Jackson would take Bubbles with him everywhere public appearances award ceremonies and just regular outings. I remember how he commissioned a sculpture of himself and Bubbles. I remember Michael saying how much he loved Bubbles and how Bubbles stayed in Michael’s bedroom at night. To the end of my days I will also remember the image of Bubbles in that film full grown behind bars staring at his beloved master’s sister while she tearfully exclaimed “Bubbles don’t you remember me?? You’ve grown so big!!” I wonder if Bubbles remembers those days with Michael and wonders if they were a dream…

  • lisa says:

    I really hope and pray that tehy will be allowed to live the rest of their lives in peace. They have given most of their lives to cruel experiments they deserve to enjoy what life they have left.