Sometime in the near future, all 451 chimpanzees now owned or being used in labs for the National Institutes of Health may be moved to sanctuaries. It’s a big step forward for animal rights activists, and has been a move in the making for the last two years.
N.I.H. released the report yesterday, recommending that only one colony of 50 chimpanzees be kept for the possibility of future research. Not only does the N.I.H. report say that most experiments or drug testing doesn’t require chimps, it also put forth a series of guidelines for those remaining under the organization’s care. The report recommends that chimps live in colonies of at least seven, that each animal has at least 1,000 square feet of space, that there’s access to an outdoor space at all times, that there are structures that the chimps can climb, and that they’re allowed to forage for food. According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are no labs in the country that meet all of those standards.
The N.I.H report still allows for future experiments where only chimps would be appropriate and it represents a serious public health concern. Even in those instances, the chimps must be allowed the social structure and environment that promotes their natural behavior and lifestyle, says Dr. K. C. Kent Lloyd, an author of the report.
Of the nine experiments involving infectious diseases, N.I.H recommended terminating six. Fifteen less invasive experiments were approved and six more were canceled.
The report recommended that planning for moving the chimps to federal sanctuaries and expanding those sanctuaries should start immediately.