A new report calls for the federal government to retire nearly all of the 451 chimpanzees owned or supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH Council of Councils has approved a report that recommends permanently retiring most of the chimps from research. Instead, the animals should be moved to sanctuaries.

The recommendations include plans for retaining a colony of about 50 chimps that would be kept in case new research is needed. Decisions about when to use the remaining animals in research studies would require the approval of an independent committee. The report also recommends new standards for housing research chimps, including maintaining the animals in groups of at least seven individuals and providing access to the outdoors year-round.

NIH announced in December 2012 that it would retire over one hundred chimpanzees that were formerly used in biomedical research studies. Those animals will be sent to the Chimp Haven federal sanctuary.

The council’s recommendations will be open to public comment, after which the NIH will decide on whether or not to implement them.


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