Update: In 2015, following pressure from PETA and other animal advocates, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that all captive chimpanzees would now be reclassified as “endangered,” effectively ending invasive experiments on our closest living genetic relatives. In addition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) promised to retire all federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries. Sadly, since this announcement, few have been retired and many have died while waiting. Please urge NIH to retire these animals now!
Originally posted June 26, 2013:
Some days make you especially proud to be an animal rights advocate. Today is one of them.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) just announced that it is cutting funding for the overwhelming majority of invasive experiments on chimpanzees. It is also retiring at least 310 of the 360 federally owned chimpanzees who are currently in laboratories to sanctuaries. During a call this morning, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins broke the news, stating that “Chimpanzees are very special animals… We believe they deserve special consideration.” We know that one day, his successor down the line will say that of mice, too, but for now the species barrier has been broken!
© Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
The U.S. has been conducting experiments on chimpanzees for more than 90 years, and shamefully, we are the last country in the industrialized world to still do so. But we are changing that. Nearly a quarter-century ago, PETA released heartbreaking video footage taken inside a laboratory that revealed chimpanzees suffering miserably, locked inside tiny steel boxes in complete isolation and exhibiting signs of insanity as they rocked incessantly in dark cages. People were rightfully outraged—and still are.
PETA, our supporters, and other animal advocates have consistently pressured the government and corporations to end cruel experiments on chimpanzees. Dr. Collins reported that NIH received more than 12,500 public comments about this issue, the lion’s share of them no doubt submitted by dedicated PETA supporters and other animal advocates.
In addition to the victory heralded by NIH’s decision, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) just issued a proposal to categorize chimpanzees in laboratories as “endangered,” as their wild counterparts already are, which would effectively prohibit their use in any invasive experiments should the proposal be accepted.
Of course, we will not stop until every last chimpanzee is freed. PETA will continue to advocate for the release of the remaining chimpanzees who are locked in laboratories, where, as NIH acknowledged today, they can still be crammed into 5-foot-by-5-foot steel boxes and used in invasive experiments.