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In a huge victory for chimpanzees being used in research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has formally announced that it will be retiring most of the chimps it owns or funds.
The announcement means that hundreds of chimpanzees will now be allowed to live free from harm, after what has been decades in labs for some, and follows years of campaigning by animal advocacy organizations and caring members of the public who have spoken out on their behalf. More than 12,500 public comments were submitted to the NIH, while a Care2 petition asking the NIH’s Director Francis Collins to retire chimps gathered more than 21,000 signatures.
In 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report that concluded most research on chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral research was unnecessary and unethical and made recommendations on their future use, which was completed at the request of the NIH and in response to a congressional inquiry.
Following that announcement, the NIH tasked the Council of Councils Working Group with making recommendations for using chimpanzees in research that were in line with the IOM’s criteria.
The Working Group made 28 recommendations, which included standards for their social and physical welfare, requirements that they live in groups of at least seven, each have a minimum of 1,000 square feet, room to climb, access to the outdoors in all weather and opportunities to forage for food, in addition to recommending retiring all but 50 chimpanzees currently being used in research.
The NIH will be accepting most of the recommendations, which means retiring 310 chimps, while keeping 50 for possible future research. Although experiments will be restricted, some hope that any proposed won’t pass muster. The NIH stated that the need to keep 50 chimps will be revisited every five years and they may eventually find that it’s unnecessary to keep them at all in the future. One recommendation that won’t be followed is the requirement to provide 1,000 square feet of space per chimp.
NIH Director Francis Collins said in a statement that “greatly reducing their use in biomedical research is scientifically sound and the right thing to do.”
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/victory-nih-to-retire-most-research-chimps.html#ixzz2XbzQfGqB