The New York Times recently ran a story documenting the end of “the era of biomedical research on chimpanzees in the United States.”
The story follows Bo, the dominant male chimp, and five others as they left New Iberia Research Center in Lafayette, La., where they had been used for research, and arrived at Project Chimps, a sanctuary that will serve as their new home.
Chimpanzees have been experimented on for nearly 100 years and the release of these chimps comes after many years of advocating and hard work.
In 2011, the National Institutes of Health decided it would not fund any new biomedical research using chimpanzees. Francis Collins, director of the NIH said chimps are “our closest relatives in the animal kingdom” and, as such, deserve “special consideration and respect.”
Four years later, the NIH concluded it would “retire all chimps it owned, retaining none for potential emergency use.” This means the 220 chimps they own, plus another 80 they support, would be retired from experimentation.
Today, about 547 chimps across the country are still held at government or private research facilities, according to ChimpCARE.
The Times reports that “all the government chimps are headed to Chimp Haven, a sanctuary in Keithville, La., where they will have a full social life and room to roam outdoors.”
Eventually, the sanctuaries hope to be put out of business by design as no new chimpanzees will need rescuing.