NIH to stop breeding chimps for testing

The Humane Society of the United States and Project R&R: Release & Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories applaud the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Research Resources’ (NCRR) decision to permanently end breeding of government-owned chimpanzees for research. The HSUS and Project R&R are working together to end the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research and testing and retire all chimpanzees to sanctuary.

The announcement, made earlier this week, concluded that there will no longer be funding by NCRR to support breeding. NCRR will continue funding commitments for its existing chimpanzee population, approximately 500 chimpanzees currently in labs and 90 in a federal sanctuary for those no longer “needed” in research.

According to Kathleen Conlee, director of program management for animal research issues for The HSUS, and a leading expert on animals used in research, “This decision is a huge step towards a day when chimpanzees are no longer used in invasive biomedical research and testing. This will spare some chimpanzees a life of up to 60 years in a laboratory. While it doesn’t help chimpanzees already living in laboratories, it is a monumental decision. Our ultimate goal is to put an end the use of chimpanzees in research and retire those chimpanzees to permanent and appropriate sanctuary.”

Project R&R executive director, Theodora Capaldo added, “The American public is deeply concerned about chimpanzees in laboratories. NCRR’s prudent decision is timely since not only U.S. but also world sentiment is growing in support of the day when no chimpanzees will be used in laboratory research – a day we will welcome as an advance for better science and more humane ethics.”

NCRR, responsible for management of government-owned and supported chimpanzees, indicated their decision was based on the lack of financial resources to support the breeding of additional chimpanzees and the need to fulfill budget responsibilities to its other programs and resources.


* May 22, 2007: NCRR announced it will no longer financially support breeding of government-owned chimpanzees for research (and has not done so since 1995).
* 1997: The National Research Council published a report that recommended a breeding moratorium through at least 2001 (extended through 2007).
* 1995: The National Institutes of Health sought advice from the National Academy of Sciences regarding the “surplus” of chimpanzees following massive breeding and subsequent failure of the chimpanzee as a model for AIDS research in the 1980’s. A breeding moratorium was put into effect that same year.


* Of the estimated 1,200 chimpanzees in nine laboratories throughout the U.S., approximately 500 are government owned or supported.
* The government spends $20 – 25 million per year on the care of chimpanzees in laboratories. The lifetime care of one chimpanzee is $300,000-500,000.
* Approximately 90 chimpanzees have been retired to the federally funded national chimpanzee sanctuary. Hundreds of additional chimpanzees formerly used in research in the United States reside at private sanctuaries throughout North America.
* Wenka, age 53, has spent most of her life in a lab. She currently resides at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta.

The HSUS’ Chimps Deserve Better and Project R&R’s Release and Restitution campaigns seek to end the use of chimpanzees in invasive biomedical research and testing and to retire chimpanzees currently in laboratories to permanent and appropriate sanctuaries by: gaining support from policymakers, the public, and the scientific community; scientifically challenging arguments advocating harmful chimpanzee research; educating about the plight of chimpanzees in laboratories; and preventing breeding of additional chimpanzees into research. For more information visit www.chimpsdeservebetter.org and www.releasechimps.org.

U.S. Humane Society

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