WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. National Institutes of Health, which supports a variety of biomedical studies using animals, will stop breeding government-owned chimpanzees for research — a step animal rights advocates lauded on Thursday.
The NIH’s National Center for Research Resources cited financial reasons for its decision this week to permanently cease breeding of government-owned chimpanzees for research. A breeding moratorium on NCRR-owned and supported chimpanzees had been in place since 1995.
The Humane Society of the United States said it suspects that ethical reasons also were involved in the decision. The group, which opposes the use of these apes as lab animals, said the decision on ending breeding likely also means NIH no longer will be acquiring new chimpanzees through other means.
Because chimpanzees are physiologically and genetically similar to people, they have been used in medical research defended by many scientists but scorned by animals rights advocates on ethical grounds.
“This decision is a huge step towards a day when chimpanzees are no longer used in invasive biomedical research and testing,” Kathleen Conlee of the Humane Society said in a statement.
“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,” Conlee added. “Our ultimate goal is to put an end (to) the use of chimpanzees in research and retire those chimpanzees to permanent and appropriate sanctuary.”
That’s good stuff.
Now what about Felix
(SPEAK Benefit gig + demo on Saturday in Oxford)