Entering the new millennium, NEAVS steadily gained ground in revitalizing its presence and effectiveness. Our Board of Directors, comprised of doctoral level professionals who are committed animal advocates with decades of experience, developed and enacted a strategic plan to guarantee priorities that would dismantle the industry of vivisection piece by piece.
We ensure a future generation of compassionate scientists by guaranteeing that students at all levels of science education have the right to learn without harming or killing animals. From dissection in high school and college to animal labs in veterinary and medical school, science education now deters those who refuse to harm animals. Guaranteeing the choice of a cruelty-free science education is the only way to allow, support, and encourage compassionate students to enter the field and change the way science does science.
In addition to our ongoing work to pass dissection choice laws across the nation and change medical, med/vet tech, and EMT training, NEAVS successfully ended the use of animals in “terminal labs” at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. In 2000, Tufts became the first veterinary school in the country to no longer require terminal labs, in which students train by practicing on animals before killing them. The campaign included funding a pilot program for Tufts students to learn surgical techniques by performing needed spay/neuter surgery on homeless cats – benefiting the students, cats, and society’s overpopulation problem. Tufts now has an official shelter medicine program that allows students to learn valuable skills while simultaneously saving animal lives and providing critical services to shelters. This victory – the result of years of collaboration between NEAVS and Tufts – led the way for other veterinary schools to follow suit. Today in the U.S. some 50% of veterinary schools no longer require terminal labs.
Changing the laws and ethics of what can and cannot be done to animals in research is the only way to challenge the status quo, which allows researchers to do whatever they want once their protocol is approved by their institution. The one species uniquely positioned to be afforded the same rights and legal protections against harmful research as Homo sapiens is the chimpanzee. In the U.S., one of few remaining countries that have not banned or limited the practice, the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research has been dramatically declining to an all-time historic low. Today there are limited numbers in U.S. labs. Science recognizes that chimpanzees share the same cognitive, social, and emotional needs as humans, but their touted genetic similarities to humans used to justify the necessity of their use have failed to provide good research for human benefit. The case against the use of chimpanzees – who are so genetically similar to us and yet still fail as a viable model for finding preventions, treatments, and cures for human health – will lead the way for scientific arguments against the use of all species.
On April 1, 2006, NEAVS went live with its website, ReleaseChimps.org. This award-winning comprehensive site provides historic and up-to-date information on the plight of chimpanzees in U.S. labs and remains the singularly most valuable resource for others working on their behalf.
On April 20, 2006, NEAVS officially launched Project R&R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories in Atlanta, GA – an appropriate location as it is home to the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, where chimpanzee research first began in the U.S. Project R&R seeks to make chimpanzees the first non-human species protected from research. With nearly 1,000 chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories, the U.S. is the sole large-scale user of chimpanzees in research in the world. Our efforts have culminated in the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, a federal bill to end the use of chimpanzees in invasive research and to release all federally owned chimpanzees into permanent sanctuary.
Thanks to advances in every major field of science, we have superior research and testing methods that can and must replace the archaic use of animals. The animal model continues in spite of the availability of scientifically validated alternatives – even though science has never validated the animal model itself. It continues because of factors including extensive lobbying by wealthy companies that profit from animal use; extensive funding from the National Institutes of Health for animal research; and assumed protection against litigation for companies whose products are “proven safe” when tested on animals (the status quo), and yet end up harming or killing humans. Government regulatory agencies and research and academic institutions must require the use of alternatives that have proven as effective, if not more so, than animal models. This will overcome the existing inertia and give researchers the economic incentive to continue developing and validating alternatives.
In 2007, NEAVS, and a coalition of animal organizations it helped found submitted a comprehensive, 66-page Mandatory Alternatives Petition (MAP) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The MAP would require that instead of using animals, pharmaceutical companies, device manufacturers, and other entities regulated by the FDA must use validated non-animal methods whenever they exist – changing the way they meet requirements to show drug and product safety for humans and saving tens of millions of animals. Existing validated alternatives are superior in predicting human response and therefore not only more humane, but better science as well. While the FDA will not yet mandate the use of alternatives, the MAP coalition is working with the FDA in developing better policy guidelines that will make it clear that animal tests are not required to meet FDA criteria for safety and efficacy.
One of the most critical and effective tools of anti-vivisection today is using science itself to disprove and dispel the self-serving oratory and myths of those who continue to insist the animal model is necessary and effective. NEAVS’ team of scientists methodically analyze the use of animals in research and expose the egregious amount of suffering and trauma they sustain from confinement and use. As a result, NEAVS is creating a unique and overwhelming body of scientific evidence against the use of animals in research to complement existing studies offering undeniable proof of the psychological and physiological suffering animals endure in labs. The geneticists, pathologists, psychologists, economists, and others with whom we work are building the case against the use of chimpanzees and other species and publishing their findings in key peer-reviewed journals. NEAVS’ scientific commitment is a rebuttal to accusations that anti-vivisectionists are “anti-science and anti-human.” Our studies disprove their rhetoric about animal research, invalidate their accusations, and provide the caring public with evidence of animal research’s lack of necessity. The American public supports animal research only because researchers lead them to believe it is necessary and that animals do not suffer.
Our scientific papers prove it is unnecessary and that they do suffer.
In 2002, NEAVS rescued two young chimpanzees, Arthur and Phoenix, from a rundown roadside park in New Hampshire. Born at the infamous Coulston Foundation lab and breeding facility, they were sold as “surplus” into entertainment. After months of negotiation and litigation, we successfully shut down the park and rescued not only Arthur and Phoenix, but 22 other exotic animals including three baby tigers, a camel, and a DeBrazza monkey. All were brought to quality sanctuaries.
NEAVS and the Fauna Foundation sanctuary in Quebec, Canada work in close cooperation on our mutual goals to end the use of chimpanzees and others in research and provide those rescued with the highest quality of sanctuary care. Fauna’s Director, Gloria Grow, is Project R&R’s co-chair and a crucial part of our programs. NEAVS has established a Lifetime Care Fund to be used for not only Fauna’s residents, but for any and all family or friends of Fauna’s chimpanzees living at other U.S. sanctuaries who were rescued from the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates.
NEAVS supports efforts to end bear bile farming in Asia and provide sanctuary for moon bears rescued from bile farms. Just as we work to end vivisection in the West, we support efforts to end this heinous vivisection practice in the East, where bear farms confine moon bears in tiny, coffin-like crush cages for years or even decades and subject them to crude surgeries to extract bile from their gall bladders for human medicinal and consumer use. NEAVS provides grants to Animals Asia, a leading rescue organization based in China, to help with rescues and provide the best care possible in sanctuary. We also have a campaign to educate U.S. schools and practitioners of traditional Asian medicine to Recognize, Reject, and Report any medicines which contain bear bile, endangered species parts, or any other cruelly derived animal ingredients.
NEAVS adopts chimpanzees, monkeys, and other animals from research and commits to providing for their lifetime care at sanctuaries. For example, NEAVS was previously committed to lifetime care support for two chimpanzees, Dana from Save the Chimps in Florida and Pepper from Fauna, who sadly both passed away in 2012.
While dismantling a deeply profitable and entrenched institution like animal research is difficult, thanks to NEAVS and other animal organizations and activists we have seen major advances for animals over the last decade. With each hard-fought victory, we are moving closer to ending the use of animals in all areas of science and education, and to humane and better science.
Over the next decade the battles will change. But throughout all the new challenges, NEAVS’ mission will remain steadfast: to expose, oppose, and end all harmful experiments on living beings, until all animals are protected from research, humans truly benefit from better and more effective alternative research and testing, and the last laboratory cage is empty.