The world will soon be much brighter for approximately 113 chimpanzees now held in Lafayette, Louisiana’s New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced its two-part plan Dec. 18, 2012 to retire them all to the comfort and safety of Chimp Haven, our federal sanctuary. The decision is a major revision to the NIH’s original plan to send only 10 to Chimp Haven and retire the rest to another lab.
NEAVS/Project R&R applauds the NIH’s commitment to these chimpanzees, who have had so much taken from them, suffered enough, and now deserve to live the rest of their lives in the comfort of a caring and safe sanctuary. In an invited teleconference call, NIH Deputy Director for Science, Outreach, and Policy, Dr. Kathy Hudson, clearly reiterated NIH’s “moral and legal responsibility” to the chimpanzees.
NEAVS/Project R&R has been closely involved in the fate of the NIRC chimps, advocating for sanctuary for all of them, and is the first to step up with a matching grant of $100,000 to Chimp Haven to help cover costs for needed construction to welcome the chimps.
NIH’s two-phase plan to get them to sanctuary starts in January when half of the chimpanzees will be moved in small groups to Chimp Haven into available housing and existing social groups as appropriate. This first phase will take about six months. For the second phase, expected to take 12-15 months to complete, approximately $2.3 million in construction funds is needed. NIH has said it will work with Chimp Haven and animal protection organizations to secure all funding.
Sadly, four other chimpanzees were evaluated by both Chimp Haven and New Iberia veterinarians who determined they were too sick for transfer. In failing health, they are permanently protected from use in research. Eight of the chimpanzees are mothers with young offspring who will remain together during the move.
Once again, even another success leaves us with more work to do! The soon-to-be new Chimp Haven residents will almost double the sanctuary’s population – but there are still those waiting. Knowing that some 113 of the approximate remaining 488 federally owned chimpanzees currently held in U.S. biomedical labs can soon rest does not allow us to. It is our duty and our labor of love to keep working until all chimpanzees live surrounded by fresh air, sunlight, trees, and all the other comforts an enriched sanctuary life provides. The NIH’s decision marks the beginning, not the end, of our goal: to get them all out of labs and safe in sanctuary. NEAVS/Project R&R will continue to vigilantly and effectively work on behalf of all the rest who are counting on us.