Federal Bill To End Invasive Research on Chimpanzees Introduced in Congress

April 13, 2011

WASHINGTON— The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act was introduced today with bipartisan support in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.; Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of The Humane Society of the United States; and Elizabeth Kucinich from the Physician’s Committee on Responsible Medicinewere among the speakers at a press conference Wednesday to show support for the reintroduction of this common sense legislation, which would phase out invasive research and testing on approximately 1,000 chimpanzees languishing in U.S. laboratories and retire the approximately 500 federally-owned chimpanzees currently in laboratories to permanent sanctuary, all while saving taxpayers nearly $30 million every year.

The bill, which ended the 111th Congress with broad bipartisan support of nearly 170 co-sponsors in the House and Senate, was reintroduced in the 112th Congress by Senators Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Representatives Bartlett, Steve Israel, D-N.Y., Dave Reichert, R-Wash., James Langevin, D-R.I., and Edolphus Towns, D-NY, along with more than 35 additional original cosponsors.

“The vast majority of federally owned chimpanzees in laboratories are not being used in active research protocols, but rather have been warehoused for decades, wasting millions of taxpayer dollars year after year,” Markarian said. “Passing this bill would not only save federal dollars by sending chimpanzees to be cared for in sanctuaries, which are more cost effective than labs, but would also spare these highly intelligent and social creatures from isolation and harm.”

Efforts to end chimpanzee research and to see chimpanzees retired to sanctuary have drawn support not only from the public but also from more than 600 scientists, physicians and educators. Rep. Bartlett said, “As a scientist with a doctorate in human physiology, I worked directly with primates on research projects for NASA and our military to protect and preserve the lives of astronauts and our military personnel. Because of this experience, I closely followed and am gratified that with spectacular advances in scientific and medical research, invasive and destructive procedures on great apes are both less effective and more costly than alternatives. With this bill, the federal government will catch up with the science and spend taxpayers’ money more wisely by eliminating invasive research and cruel captivity of these incredible animals.”

“The bipartisan Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act is a common-sense reform to end needless pain and psychological harm to one of the animal kingdom’s most highly developed animals, the chimpanzee,” Sen. Cantwell said. “The chimpanzee is a poor model for illness research, and the vast majority of the 500 federally-owned chimpanzees are just wasting away in research laboratories resulting in millions of dollars of wasteful government spending. This legislation would require these chimpanzees to be permanently retired to sanctuaries, where it is far cheaper to care for them — not to mention a better environment for these magnificent animals.”

“Scientists around the world are ending the use of chimpanzees in invasive experiments because these intelligent creatures suffer immensely and are poor models for researching human diseases,” said Elizabeth Kucinich, director of public affairs for PCRM. “The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act would ensure that there would be no more ineffective and inhumane chimpanzee experiments.” For more information, go to The HSUS’ Chimps Deserve Better Campaign.


  • The United States is the only developed country in the world that continues the large-scale confinement of chimpanzees in laboratories. Australia, The European Union, Japan and New Zealand have banned or strictly limited their use.
  • At any given time, about 80 to 90 percent of chimpanzees in U.S. laboratories are not used in research, but simply warehoused at taxpayer expense.
  • GlaxoSmithKline, a major pharmaceutical company that is developing therapies for hepatitis, voluntarily decided to end the use of chimpanzees in their research at the end of 2008 and stated that “while GSK recognises the importance of scientific knowledge tied to work with chimpanzees in the past, we also recognise that – in part thanks to new directions and advancement of animal models and other techniques in biomedical research – the case for using great apes in the future is less clear than it may have been previously.”

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web athumanesociety.org.