February 2023 Enewsletter


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February 28, 2023

Success! Birds gain protection, scientific criticism of animal research, chimps thrive at sanctuary

Historic Effort to Protect Birds Succeeds!

As a result of a 23-year legal effort led by AAVS and the Avian Welfare Coalition (AWC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finally enacted federal protection for birds used in commerce, which has been required for nearly a quarter of a century. Birds protected by these regulations are those exploited in certain commercial industries, including for exhibition, breeding, the pet trade, and some types of research.

“AAVS has been determined to not allow the federal government’s legal obligation to be ignored and fade into some historical footnote,” said AAVS President Sue Leary. “The court case that finally compelled USDA to enact the regulations was the latest in a series of efforts, but as an organization that’s been fighting on behalf of animals for 140 years, we understand the need for perseverance in order to achieve meaningful, lasting change.”

AWC drafted comprehensive, species-specific standards for the care and treatment of birds covered under the AWA, addressing serious animal welfare issues. The government did not dispute many of the ethical and scientific arguments made by AAVS and AWC, and its final regulations include requirements for the transport of baby birds, wading areas for aquatic birds, and psychological enrichment for all covered birds.

However, AAVS and AWC are disappointed that the USDA decided to not include regulations to address the need for flight, a vital behavior for most birds. The agency also granted an inexplicable exemption from coverage for many breeders and sellers of birds based on animal size, allowing substantial breeding operations to evade regulation. However, the agency still expects that over 5,975 facilities will be “newly regulated” once the new rules go into effect.

Other News

Harvard Law School’s Animal Law & Policy Clinic and the Wild Minds Lab in the UK sent a letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), urging it to review and end funding of research using non-human primates. More than 380 scientists, doctors, and academics, including renowned primatologists Drs. Jane Goodall and Ian Redmond, signed on to the letter, which detailed an NIH-funded study at Harvard involving sewing baby monkeys’ eyes shut and separating them from their mothers.

A provocative piece in The New Yorker delves into the many differences between animal species and how their living environments can affect them and study results. These variables can make studies difficult to replicate and can produce unreliable data, wasting time and resources as human patients wait for disease cures. One neuroscientist who abandoned animal experiments urged his peers to treat animals as sentient beings, not as “psychologically inert automatons.”

Sanctuary Moment

North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance

Take a look at Shake!

Shake is one of the “Sunrise Seven” chimpanzees who were moved to the Save the Chimps sanctuary after the California wildlife facility where they had been living closed, due in part to the dangers posed by wildfires. Previously, Shake and her friends lived in large cages on cement pads.

But take a look at Shake now! She has room to swing, grass under her feet, and novel enrichment toys, things she didn’t have at her old home. Plus, what a multitasker! She’s got a box in her mouth and is holding a stuffed animal with her thigh, all while swinging in her habitat. We couldn’t be more thrilled to see how Shake and her friends are flourishing and enjoying their new lives.

A longtime recipient of AAVS support through our annual Sanctuary Fund, Save the Chimps provides the opportunity for chimps to live in large family groups on 12 separate, 3-acre islands, where they receive three fresh meals daily, first-rate medical care, and a variety of activities in an enriched environment. There’s no doubt that Shake and her friends will be living the best years of their lives at Save the Chimps.

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