Last year I had a chance to visit the Fauna Foundation, a sanctuary in Montreal for chimpanzees “retired” from research laboratories and entertainment. The Fauna Foundation received a lot of press after writer Andrew Westoll wrote The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, which is an account of his time as a volunteer at the sanctuary (I recommend reading it!). This sanctuary serves an important function because they offer peace and relative freedom to chimpanzees that have only known a caged existence as test subjects in biomedical facilities. As an outspoken critic of this research, I am enormously grateful for these sanctuaries. In biomedical facilities chimpanzees often live in unsanitary conditions, without areas for foraging, or an ability to interact with other members of their own species. Many chimpanzees that are eventually transferred to sanctuaries suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
That is why I was very happy to hear yesterday that the United States would be largely phasing out biomedical research on chimpanzees. The U.S. is the only country that still keeps chimpanzees for this type of research. Austria, New Zealand, the Netherlands the United Kingdom introduced bans on using chimpanzees for biomedical research in 2006. This is not just because using chimpanzees as guinea pigs is morally abhorrent. It is also because chimpanzees as models offer us nothing that can’t be gained from using other animals as models (e.g., rats, hamsters, guinea pigs). Considering that it is cheaper, more efficient, and useful to use rodents in biomedical research, there is really no reason to continue large-scale research on our closest relatives.
The United States new proposed federal rules wouldn’t limit all research, but it does place a stranglehold on new research. Here is the statement from Working Group on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website:
“NIH will not fund any new or other competing projects (renewal and revisions) for research involving chimpanzees and will not allow any new projects to go forward with NIH-owned or supported chimpanzees.”
Written By: Cadell Lastcontinue to source article at theadvancedapes.com