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N.M. Test Chimps to Retire

N.M. Test Chimps to Retire

The NIH announcement comes on the heels of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision last June to protect captive chimpanzees in the United States under the Endangered Species Act.


Chimpanzees held for potential biomedical research will be retired and moved to a sanctuary, Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, announced today.

Additional reports cite that the first to be sent to sanctuary will include the 20 New Mexico chimpanzees used for decades by the federal government in invasive biomedical experiments. In 2010 these New Mexico chimps were moved from Alamogordo to the Southwest National Primate Research Center at Texas Biomedical Research Institute.

Animal Protection of New Mexico has fought for more than 20 years to protect these chimpanzees and ensure their retirement to sanctuary, giving them the peace and dignity they deserve,” said Laura Bonar, chief program and policy officer for APNM.

“New Mexicans and our policymakers have for years taken action to stop wasteful spending on cruel and ineffective chimpanzee research. We can all be proud that Rosie, Elijah, Theo, Opal, Fred and all the other surviving New Mexico chimpanzees will at last head to sanctuary.”

The NIH announcement comes on the heels of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision last June to protect captive chimpanzees in the United States under the Endangered Species Act.

In 2013, NIH had announced plans to keep 50 chimpanzees for potential biomedical research, but today reversed this decision in light of recommendations from multiple independent scientific bodies, which have shown that chimpanzees are poor models for human health research.

“We’re so grateful for the NIH’s decision to retire not just the 20 New Mexico chimps held in Texas, but protect all chimpanzees from further research,” Bonar said. “They are doing the right thing.”

“These chimpanzees are our cousins,” explained Bonar, who has spearheaded APNM’s Securing Sanctuary for Chimpanzees program since 2010. “Emotionally, they are a lot like us – they feel pain, fear and anxiety, which many of them have experienced for decades. After all they have been though, it is our moral obligation to ensure they live out the remainder of their lives in peace and dignity.”

Peace and dignity has always been the goal. Take Rosie, for example. She was born in the lab more than 30 years ago – on September 9, 1981. Her entire life has been a science experiment. She has been anesthetized for procedures at least 99 times, eventually developing seizures so severe that she needed additional medication for each sedation. Intentionally infected with hepatitis, her liver has been biopsied 15 times.

Now Rosie will get to experience what it means to live instead of just survive. Even though she couldn’t grow up with a chimp family, Rosie can now grow old with one.

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  • Darian
    November 19, 2015, 4:03 pm

    You can put the retired chimps IN CONGRESS. These chimps know how things work. You give them a bananna and they DO WHAT YOU WANT.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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