An Economic Analysis:Chimpanzee Housing and Maintenance in U.S. Laboratories and Sanctuaries

October 17, 2010 Capaldo, T., Owens, M., & Lary, M. (2010). Project R&R. Science Papers

While other nations have banned or limited great-ape use in research, approximately 1,000 federally owned and/or supported chimpanzees remain in U.S. laboratories. Less than 20% are in research protocols, the majority “warehoused” at great cost and questionable benefit to taxpayers. Recent publications conclude chimpanzee research has made limited contributions to human health; is replaceable by more productive alternatives; has been counter-productive to advancements; and causes serious psychological as well as physical harm to chimpanzees.  This investigation explored fiscal realities associated with federal support for chimpanzees in “holding facilities,” and whether tax dollars are better spent supporting chimpanzees in sanctuaries with remaining funds reallocated to productive research. We conclude that path dependency and institutional lock-in help explain why laboratories continue to warehouse chimpanzees in the absence of research need. Given this fiscal waste, as well as scientific and ethical controversy, the study’s results support the transfer of all federally owned/supported chimpanzees to sanctuary.