Over one hundred chimpanzees that were formerly used in biomedical research studies will be retired and sent to the Chimp Haven federal sanctuary. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the plan in mid-December. The 110 chimps are currently housed at the New Iberia Research Center.
“These animals have made important contributions to research to improve human health, but new technologies have reduced the need for their continued use in research,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins.
The announcement marks another step taken by NIH to implement the recommendations made by an Institute of Medicine panel to restrict use of chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral research. NIH announced a year ago that it was suspending funding for new research on chimpanzees. After the move of the New Iberia Research Center animals, NIH will still own about 300 chimps that are housed in research facilities.
The transfers of the animals, which will take place over the next 12 to 15 months, will double the size of the federally owned chimp population at Chimp Haven. Although some of the chimps can be accommodated within the sanctuary’s current capacity, there is not enough space for all of the animals. Chimp Haven has requested $2.3 million to build additional enclosures for the remaining animals. NIH, however, has stated that it does not have the funds to contribute to the construction. An additional complication is that the agency is nearing a legislative spending cap on the cumulative amount it can spend on the Federal Sanctuary System.
The Humane Society of the United States and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health have launched a fundraising effort to raise the needed money.
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