A Review of Autopsy Reports on Chimpanzees in or from U.S. Laboratories

October 12, 2012 Capaldo, T. & Peppercorn, M. (2012). Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, 40(5). Science Papers

Approximately 1,000 chimpanzees are currently held in five federally owned or supported U.S. laboratories. This study reviews 110 autopsy reports on chimpanzees who died from 2001-2011 in laboratories or in sanctuaries who were from laboratories, in order to glean information about their pre-morbid health and causes of death. The findings raise questions about the health status of the chimpanzees remaining in laboratories. Most chimpanzees currently held are not in active protocols. The Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection (CHIMP) Act of 2000 states that chimpanzees no longer “needed” for research “shall” be accepted into the federal sanctuary system, but criteria for when a chimpanzee is deemed no longer needed are not given. The assessment of no longer needed lies with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who has left the decision to the discretion of the laboratories. This autopsy review revealed that the majority of chimpanzees who died in the laboratories had been suffering from significant chronic or incurable illnesses and most often had multi-system diseases that should have made them ineligible for future research on scientific as well as ethical grounds. The study’s findings are significant in establishing the need for defined criteria for chimpanzee retirement to sanctuary.

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