Arcus Welcomes U.S. Agency Decision To Release Lab Chimps

June 27, 2013

New York, NY, 27 June, 2013 — The Arcus Foundation welcomes yesterday’s decision by the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) to largely accept recommendations to permanently retire more than 300 federally-owned laboratory chimpanzees.

The NIH decision was the government agency’s response to recommendations in a December 2011 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) which found most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research to be unnecessary.

“This landmark decision will greatly reduce the exploitation and suffering of hundreds of chimpanzees in the United States who have been languishing in cages for decades,” said Kevin Jennings, Arcus’ Executive Director.

“Arcus grantees and others have been working for years to end the use of all captive apes in biomedical research and entertainment. This decision will allow a significant number in the U.S. to live the rest of their lives in the more naturalistic settings of sanctuaries with high standards of care.”

Roughly 1,900 chimpanzees are held in captivity in the U.S. with 864 held in federal and private research laboratories; 286 used for entertainment or as breeders to fuel the private pet trade; 734 are in accredited zoos and sanctuaries.

Invasive biomedical research protocols have decreased in U.S. laboratories over the past decade but the NIH plans to maintain, without breeding, a group of up to 50 government-owned or supported chimpanzees for laboratory work.

Yesterday’s announcement comes two weeks after a proposed decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to uplist the country’s captive chimpanzees to endangered status alongside their wild counterparts.

If adopted at the end of its 60-day public comment period, the FWS decision would require all commercial users of chimpanzees, including any remaining in laboratories, to prove that their activities support conservation of the species in the wild.

Among the Arcus grantees that have worked to advance protections for the well-being of apes in captivity are: Humane Society of the United States, Animal Protection of New Mexico, New England Anti-Vivisection Society, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and Lincoln Park Zoo’s Project ChimpCARE.

In addition, Arcus-supported sanctuaries caring for chimpanzees released from captivity include Save the Chimps, Center for Great Apes, Fauna Foundation and Primate Rescue Center along with the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance.

Organizations will continue to work towards building capacity of the U.S. sanctuary system and the safe transfer of as many chimpanzees as possible to facilities where they will receive long-term rehabilitation and care.

For more information about Arcus’ work on the well-being of apes in captivity in the United States and Canada, check out the Arcus Sanctuary Sustainability Guide.

For information on the Foundation’s Great Apes strategy, click here.

About the Arcus Foundation

Founded in 2000 by Jon Stryker, the Arcus Foundation is a private grantmaking body that supports organizations around the world working to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights, as well as conservation of the world’s great apes. The Foundation works globally and has offices in New York City, Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Cambridge, UK.