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Most funding for chimp lab research to end immediately

In “U.S. Will Not Finance New Research on Chimps” (New York Times, December 15, 2011), James Gorman reports,

The National Institutes of Health on Thursday suspended all new grants for biomedical and behavioral research on chimpanzees and accepted the first uniform criteria for assessing the necessity of such research. Those guidelines require that the research be necessary for human health, and that there be no other way to accomplish it.

The announcement was not controversial. Not much chimp research is going on in medicine; it’s expensive and usually unnecessary. And the ban exempts the usual “chimps r’ us” staple of the pop science media:

For behavioral and genomic experiments, the report recommended that the research should be done on chimps only if the animals are cooperative, and in a way that minimizes pain and distress. It also said that the studies should “provide otherwise unattainable insight into comparative genomics, normal and abnormal behavior, mental health, emotion or cognition.”

Notably,

In making the announcement, Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the N.I.H., said that chimps, as the closest human relatives, deserve “special consideration and respect” and that the agency was accepting the recommendations released earlier in the day by an expert committee of the Institute of Medicine, which concluded that most research on chimpanzees was unnecessary.

That’s been known for a long time. But the chimps were there and so were the grants.

Of course, the key question is, what’s to become of the (probably) thousands of chimps who are still expensive but no longer grant attractors? Some of these liberations don’t always turn out misty-eyed.

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4 Responses to Most funding for chimp lab research to end immediately

  1. What to do with the chimps? Zoos.

    Anything else I can help with? :)

  2. Perhaps, but zoos need a budget for acquiring new animals. Chimps are high maintenance. What happens in the meantime, given that the grants are not coming in?

    Some of us wonder how come all those chimps came to be bred in the first place, given that it was a stagnant medical research area – a fact that must have been realized for some years.

    What DID people think was going to happen when the gravy train was shuttled off to the sidetrack?

  3. Ok if I need to be serious I would have to know:

    1- How many chimps

    2- What does “high maintenance” mean- how much, what type, etc

    3- Which zoos that have chimp facilities

    4- Grants once used for the research could be used to facilitate the move

    5- we could appeal to the 1% for funding and if they refuse the chimps could “accidently” find their way into their homes.

    I likes me some number 5…

  4. There’s a bit of information here:

    Seven North American sanctuaries for retired entertainment, pet, and research chimpanzees today all find the costs of care range between $14,000 – $19,000 a year for each ape. When the first four chimpanzees were used in the 2005 ads, they were 2 years (Kodua), 4 years (Mowgli), 6 years (Bella), and 7 years old (Ellie). Since they could all live to the age of 50 or more, you can do the math and see that it could take millions of dollars to provide care for the actors that sold CareerBuilder to the public.

    Another issue some of us wonder about, with respect to the lab chimps, is how they will get on with chimps living more or less free in zoo enclosures. If not, they will have to be housed separately.

    Ironically, a chimp’s intelligence could be its misfortune here: If they were lab sheep, they could just be turned out to pasture somewhere and, if they didn’t like it, that’s too baaaad. But they probably wouldn’t know enough not to like it.

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