Target: Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health
Goal: Ensure all sick chimpanzees retired from federal research centers are allowed to live out the rest of their days at sanctuaries
The United States remains the only industrialized nation in the world to use live chimpanzees in invasive research experiments. While the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) decision to retire 110 federally owned chimpanzees from invasive experiments at first seemed like a victory for these intelligent and beautiful creatures, the actual fate of most of these animals can hardly be considered retirement at all. Only 10 chimpanzees released from the New Iberia Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana will be sent to a sanctuary to live out their final years in peace. The other 100 are currently doomed to spend their last days at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, where they may still be used as subjects in non-invasive research.
These chimpanzees have already lived through a lifetime of mistreatment and torture–much of it ultimately unnecessary to the development of science and medicine. Many are already afflicted with chronic illnesses like epilepsy and renal failure. Unfortunately, they aren’t the only sick animals doomed to spend their final years being probed and abused by human scientists. A new study published in the journal Alternatives to Laboratory Animals reveals that 64% of chimpanzees who die in research facilities suffer from severe chronic illnesses for years before they finally succumb to them.
Research scientists should know better than to force sick animals to remain in laboratories where they will be of little or no use to scientific study. Tell the director of the NIH to institute new policies that will allow all sick laboratory chimpanzees to retire to sanctuaries, not private research facilities.
Dear Dr. Collins,
While the National Institutes of Health’s recent decision to allow 110 research chimpanzees to retire from the New Iberia Research Center may have seemed like a concession to animal rights activists, the true fate of these chimpanzees leaves much to be desired. Of these 110 chimpanzees, only 10 will be allowed to live out their years in peace at an animal sanctuary. The remaining 100–many of whom suffer from severe chronic illnesses–will simply be transported to another research facility where they may still be used in experiments.
Sick chimpanzees are unfortunately used all too often in laboratory research in the United States. Of all chimpanzees who die in labs, 64% are afflicted with serious chronic diseases. Many of these chimpanzees are too sick to be of use to scientific inquiry, made to suffer uselessly for years before they succumb to their illnesses and deplorable living conditions. Treating animals in this way is nothing less than torture and must be stopped immediately.
I demand that you implement new policies that require scientists to retire chimpanzees who show symptoms of serious illness to sanctuaries, not other research facilities. Put an end to the needless suffering of innocent animals at once.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Frank Wouters via Flickr.