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January 31, 2023
Victory for chimps, FDA and alternatives, Dangerous monkey imports, Treetop Ten are home
Chimps Get Court Victory!
Over 70 chimpanzees who have been living almost their entire lives in labs may soon be able to spend their remaining years in a sanctuary. A federal judge ruled in December that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) violated the law when it refused to allow certain chimps to be transferred out of labs and sent to the Chimp Haven sanctuary in Louisiana.
In her decision, U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby states that the NIH’s stance violates the CHIMP Act, passed in 2000. “Congress intended for the federal sanctuary system to provide lifetime care for chimpanzees that are no longer appropriate for research due to advanced age, infections, or similar circumstance,” she wrote. “The CHIMP Act makes clear that Congress recognized that older and sicker chimpanzees…would enter the federal sanctuary system.”
The NIH announced in 2015 that it would no longer fund chimp research and stated that it had “developed a plan for the retirement of all of the NIH-owned and –supported chimpanzees to Chimp Haven.” Since then, more than 200 chimpanzees have been relocated to the sanctuary. However, the NIH announced in 2019 and 2021 that the remaining chimpanzees at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico and dozens more chimps at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas would not be relocated to Chimp Haven. The agency claimed that it was for their own good because they were too frail or otherwise unsuited for life in a sanctuary. AAVS and others protested this determination.
After repeated appeals to NIH were disregarded, animal protection organizations finally sued the agency to force it to comply with the law, documenting that older chimps certainly can be moved safely. Next, the judge will review additional information and the parties are expected to reach agreement on a practical plan for relocating the chimps.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and drug industry representatives have stated that a “shortage” of primates created an opportunity for “the development and use of alternative methods.” With the incorporation of the FDA Modernization Act 2.0 into a federal budget bill, explicitly allowing non-animal methods to be accepted, and a $5 million allocation for the FDA’s New Alternative Methods Program, the door is open for the agency to make meaningful advancements in drug testing and discovery.
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Imports of long-tailed macaques from Cambodia for use in research continue despite several concerning discoveries. Government documents show that monkeys carrying an infectious bioagent entered the U.S. from Cambodia between 2018 and 2021 and that the number of primates who died in quarantine more than quadrupled from 2017 to 2021. A smuggling ring involving the sale of primates to U.S. importers from Cambodia was also uncovered.
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We are so thrilled to share that Amber, Axil, Buster, Connor, December, Denise, Inky, Mocha, Mousse, and Tequila—affectionately known as the Treetop Ten—have arrived at their new home at the Chimp Haven sanctuary in Louisiana. They are the last chimpanzees to be moved out of the Wildlife Waystation, which closed in 2019 partly because it was located precariously close to the wildfires in southern California.
In order to provide a safe home for these chimpanzees, Chimp Haven needed to expand its facilities. AAVS and our supporters were able to help this effort through our BUILD IT! Giving campaign. Now these special chimpanzees have the opportunity to live in large family groups, explore spacious habitats, indulge in fresh fruits and veggies, and enjoy unique enrichment activities. They have the very best expert care to keep them thriving, and finally get to live the chimp life!
Check out this video to follow their 1,600-mile journey to Chimp Haven!