Keithville, LA — Chimp Haven learned today that National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins announced his decision to accept the recommendation of the Council of Council’s Working Group to retire all but approximately 50 federally owned or supported chimpanzees to the Federal Sanctuary System.
“This is truly a red letter day for chimpanzees who’ve spent decades of their lives in research,” Chimp Haven President and Chief Executive Officer Cathy Willis Spraetz said. “We are overcome with joy. This is a day that Chimp Haven, along with many organizations and individuals, have looked forward to and worked diligently towards for many years. Chimp Haven exists to provide an appropriate retirement home for these chimpanzees and we are thankful for Dr. Collins’ decision.”
The conclusion comes after more than two years of deliberation with key players in the animal and science worlds. In accepting the recommendations, NIH intends to:
- Retain but not breed a small fraction of chimpanzees for future research that meets the IOM principles and criteria
- Provide ethologically appropriate facilities (i.e., as would occur in their natural environment) for those chimpanzees as defined by NIH based on the advisory council recommendations and with space requirements yet to be determined
- Establish a review panel to consider research projects proposing the use of chimpanzees with the IOM principles and criteria after projects have cleared the NIH peer review process
- Wind down research projects using NIH-owned or -supported chimpanzees that do not meet the IOM principles and criteria in a way that preserves the research and minimizes the impact on the animals retire the majority of the NIH-owned chimpanzees deemed unnecessary for biomedical research to the Federal Sanctuary System contingent upon resources and space availability in the sanctuary system
As the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Chimp Haven is excited about what this announcement will mean for all of the chimpanzees slated to be retired in the coming years.
“This is what the founders of Chimp Haven envisioned in 1995 when the organization was merely an idea,” Willis Spraetz said. “Now the organization’s visionaries, staff, volunteers, supporters and donors are able to see the fruits of their labor as we embark on this milestone. However, our work is not complete as we must remain focused on providing the retirement environment that these beautiful creatures deserve.”