UPDATE: Despite the enormous progress the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (GAPCSA) made in Congress, the 112th legislative session ended Jan. 3, 2012 without it passing. However, in 2013 the NIH announced it was retiring from research the vast majority of its chimpanzees.
Approximately 1,000 chimpanzees are living in six research laboratories in the United States. Some have been confined in labs for up to 50 years. The vast majority, if not all, are not involved in active research protocols – instead they are languishing, warehoused at taxpayers’ expense. According to the National Institutes of Health, the cost to U.S. taxpayers for chimpanzee research and maintenance is more than $60 million per year. The entire European Union, along with Australia, Japan, and New Zealand, have already banned or severely restricted the use of chimpanzees in invasive research. The United States is the only remaining nation that continues keep chimpanzees in labs.
In 2006, NEAVS launched its award winning website releasechimps.org and its campaign Project R&R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories. This work spearheaded broad-based national efforts to place the U.S. alongside other nations which have ended chimpanzee use.
The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act would have given chimpanzees – our closest genetic relatives – and all great apes protection from invasive research and a humane retirement. In addition, the act would have allowed taxpayer dollars now wasted on research that has had no significant impact on human health to be reallocated into effective non-animal research that will benefit human beings. For a single chimpanzee, lifetime care in a research facility costs more than $1 million, compared with an approximate third less of that cost for superior care in a sanctuary. Further, laboratory life causes trauma and psychological suffering in chimpanzees as would such confinement and use cause in humans. Good sanctuaries, however, help chimpanzees heal and finally be able to live a life worth living.
Ending invasive research on and the housing and maintenance of chimpanzees in U.S. labs is scientifically, ethically, and economically the right thing to do for not only chimpanzees but also for the American people.