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Great Apes and the Law: A complete resource for the legal status of the Great Apes within the United States
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Detailed Discussion of Great Apes under the CHIMP Act



Hanna Coate


Animal Legal & Historical Center
Publish Date:
2011
Place of Publication: Michigan State University College of Law

Printable Version

 

I. Introduction

Chimpanzees have been used for scientific research in the United States since the early 1900’s. As early as 1916, Robert M. Yerkes, a Harvard-educated psychologist, was rallying the scientific community to establish a primate research institute in the U.S.[1] By 1930, he had garnered enough support from Yale University, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Carnegie Foundation to establish the first dedicated primate research facility in the United States.[2] The Yale Laboratories for Primate Biology, which was located in Orange Park, Florida, was the first of many research facilities that would house, breed, and conduct controversial biomedical research experiments on chimpanzees over the next 80 years.[3] Although private researchers and some federal agencies had already been conducting research experiments on chimpanzees, the practice gained momentum in 1960 when Congress established the Nation’s regional primate centers.[4]  

Today, every other country in the world, with the possible exception of Gabon, has stopped using chimpanzees for biomedical research, yet in the United States the practice continues.[5] While the country remains divided on the ethical implications and scientific utility of using chimpanzees as research subjects,[6] there is a general national consensus that the costs to maintain chimpanzees for scientific research are extremely high. According to Congress, U.S. taxpayers pay millions of dollars each year to federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, just to maintain chimpanzees for research purposes.[7] That amount does not include the costs of developing and conducting the research experiments. As of 2007, there were approximately 850 federally owned or supported chimpanzees housed in six research laboratories throughout the U.S., which cost the taxpayers more than $11 million dollars a year to maintain.[8] According to recent estimates, it will cost taxpayers about $1.85 billion dollars to maintain those animals in research laboratories for the remainder of their lives.[9] While that number may seem high, it actually represents a marked decrease in the number of chimpanzees that were maintained by the federal government for scientific research during the prior decade. In 1999, U.S. taxpayers were paying to maintain approximately 1,500 chimpanzees, some of which were not even government-owned, in research laboratories.[10] Many of those animals were considered “surplus,” meaning that they were not needed for breeding or for scientific research, yet the government was paying to warehouse them for lack of a better long-term care plan. In 2000, Congress passed the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act which established a national sanctuary system to relocate the surplus chimpanzees from research facilities to sanctuaries, which would provide lifetime care for those animals.  

While the United States has not banned the use of chimpanzees in scientific research, the federal government has taken several significant steps in the past few decades to address the ethical, scientific, and financial implications of breeding, warehousing, and experimenting on those animals. The following section outlines key events from the recent past that led to the surplus of chimpanzees in U.S. research facilities and the actions that the government has taken to reduce the number of chimpanzees that are maintained in those facilities. The remainder of the discussion provides a detailed analysis of the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act and an overview of the current status of the national chimpanzee sanctuary system.  

 

II. Need for the CHIMP Act

For more than six decades, the U.S. government has owned and supported chimpanzees for research experiments that are conducted or funded by various federal agencies. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) breeds, maintains, and uses chimpanzees for biomedical research and funds independent scientific research projects that involve the use of chimpanzees.[11] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses and funds the use of chimpanzees for infectious disease research.[12] The Food and Drug Administration uses and funds the use of chimpanzees in drug development research.[13] Other federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, have utilized captive chimpanzees for a variety of experiments.[14] With the passage of the Federal Endangered Species Act[15] in 1973, and the subsequent listing of wild populations of chimpanzees as “threatened”[16] (1976) and then “endangered”[17] (1990), the government and private researchers were essentially cut off from the finite supply of wild-caught research subjects.[18] In response to the potential shortage of available research subjects, the National Institutes of Health began a breeding program, which eventually led to an excess population of captive chimpanzees in research facilities throughout the country. The National Research Council’s Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (NRC) warned that the “combination of excess captive chimpanzees in the US biomedical population and lack of facilities and resources to care for increasing numbers adequately will soon become an insurmountable problem of enormous complexity, cost, and ethical concern.”[19] As a result, NIH stopped breeding chimpanzees, but the government was left with the financial and ethical responsibility of providing lifetime care for the existing chimpanzees that it had acquired or used for scientific research.

The following timeline illustrates some key events leading up to the passage of the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act in 2000, which established a federal chimpanzee sanctuary system to provide long-term care for chimpanzees that were bred, used, or maintained for use in scientific research. 

1986:  In 1986, NIH established an extensive government-funded chimpanzee breeding program, primarily in anticipation of their increased use in AIDS research.[20] During the peak years of NIH’s breeding program (1987-1993), the program produced an annual average of 10 live chimpanzee births per 100 animals.[21] The agency had not considered the long-term resources that would be required to maintain the chimpanzees, which can live up to 65 years in captivity,[22] because it expected many of the animals to “die prematurely from complications related to the research in which they had been used.”[23] The chimpanzees used in AIDS research did not develop AIDS and die as expected, nor did they prove to be suitable subjects for HIV and AIDS research.[24]

1994:  By 1994, the cost of caring for the chimpanzees and the agency’s rapidly dwindling resources prompted the NIH to commission the National Research Council’s Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (NRC) to study the problem and make recommendations for the long-term care of the animals.

1995:  In 1995, NIH declared a breeding moratorium on all chimpanzees that are owned or supported by NIH’s National Center for Research Resources (NCRR).[25] The agency has since made the breeding moratorium permanent, citing the lack of financial resources to support ongoing breeding and the high cost of maintaining the existing chimpanzee facilities.[26]    

1996:  As of 1996, there were 528 chimpanzees in the breeding program, 246 of which were considered “surplus,” meaning that there was no current or projected need for those animals for either breeding or research purposes.[27] Also, there were more than 300 captive chimpanzees living in six separate research facilities in the U.S. that had been exposed to either HIV or hepatitis, or both.[28] The cost to maintain an infected (or “contaminated”) chimpanzee in a biohazard containment facility is estimated to be between $30 and $67 a day, or more than $500,000 for the life of the animal.[29]

1997:  In 1997, the National Research Council’s Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (NRC) published a lengthy report called Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for their Ethical Care, Management, and Use.[30] The federally-supported study estimated that the cost of maintaining the existing chimpanzees in U.S. research facilities for the next 60 years would exceed $3.14 billion dollars.[31] At that time, there were 2,500 known captive chimpanzees throughout the world, and approximately 1,500 of those animals were maintained in six scientific research facilities in the United States.[32] NRC found that the existing NIH-supported biomedical chimpanzee facilities were overcrowded, which compromises the quality of care of the apes and increases the risk of the spread of infectious disease from the deliberately-infected chimpanzees to “healthy animals.”[33] The report recommended that the government explore the option of ethically disposing of both “contaminated” and non-contaminated surplus chimpanzees in long term care facilities like private sanctuaries to reduce the government’s financial liability for the lifetime care of those animals. NRC had considered and rejected the option of utilizing euthanasia as a means of population control[34] on moral grounds.[35] According to the Council, “it is difficult to conceive that our society would accept a system that deteriorated to the point where euthanasia of chimpanzees became the best or only humane option.”[36] On the other hand, NRC reasoned that transferring the surplus chimpanzees to private (non-government) sanctuaries would save the government money because it costs less to maintain apes in sanctuaries than in research facilities,[37] and public donations to sanctuaries would offset the government’s financial burden for the long-term care of the animals.[38] 

1998:  In 1998, the U.S. Air Force “retired” 144 chimpanzees that were remnants of the space program which used chimps in the 1950’s and 1960’s.[39] In 1970, when the chimpanzees were no longer needed for the space program, they were leased by the federal agency to various research institutions for biomedical experiments. This continued for nearly 30 years. When the agency decided to permanently divest itself of the apes, it did not send most of the animals to sanctuaries. Instead, 30 individuals were sent to a sanctuary in Texas and the Air Force gave 111 of the chimpanzees to the now-defunct Coulston Foundation, a biomedical research corporation that sparked tremendous controversy for its “remarkably poor animal care record.”[40] In fact, just months before the Air Force announced its decision to transfer ownership of the chimpanzees to the Coulston Foundation, the facility had been cited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the negligent deaths of two female chimpanzees and other Federal Animal Welfare Act violations.[41] A year after the Air Force gave its surplus chimpanzees to the Coulston Foundation, the facility entered into a consent agreement with the USDA for ongoing violations of the Animal Welfare Act which had resulted in the deaths of 35 chimpanzees and 13 monkeys.[42] As part of that 1999 consent agreement, the facility agreed to relinquish ownership of 300 of its 650 chimpanzees.[43] Many of those animals would return to federal ownership.

1999:  In 1999, Representative James C. Greenwood introduced H.R. 3514, the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act (CHIMP Act)[44] to establish a national sanctuary system for chimpanzees that have been used, or were bred or purchased for use in scientific research that was conducted or supported by various federal agencies.[45] According to Representative Greenwood, the federal government had been spending millions of dollars to keep the surplus chimpanzees in “inhumane conditions” and sending the animals to sanctuaries represented an opportunity to finally treat them humanely.[46]  

2000:  In 2000, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stopped funding the Coulston Foundation and took ownership of 288 of Coulston’s chimpanzees, all of which had been infected with HIV or hepatitis.[47] Thus, the federal government, rather than the Coulston Foundation, had the financial burden of providing long-term care for the animals. However, despite the transfer of ownership of those animals to NIH, there was no facility in the country that could adequately house them.[48] NIH had to leave the chimpanzees where they were, but awarded Charles River Laboratories a $42.8 million dollar, 10-year contract to maintain the apes at their current facility on Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. 

By then, the federal government was spending an estimated $7.5 million dollars annually to warehouse “surplus” chimpanzees in various laboratories throughout the country.[49] In response to the recommendations included in NRC’s 1997 report and because the government’s newly acquired chimpanzees remained at the Coulston Foundation despite “continuing and alarming reports of animal abuse” at the facility,[50] Congress passed H.R. 3514 to establish a national system of sanctuaries to provide lifetime care to chimpanzees. The bill, which had 143 co-sponsors in the House, and passed the Senate with unanimous consent, became effective on December 20, 2000.[51] The legislation received widespread support from the scientific community and animal advocates alike. According to one scientist, “[s]anctuaries are cheaper, healthier and better for the breeding and the interests of the chimpanzees, since chimpanzees confined in most medical research facilities are not…[in] a suitable environment for breeding or for long-term holding.”[52] The 1997 NRC report predicted a tremendous financial advantage in sending surplus chimpanzees to sanctuaries. At that point, NIH had been spending $20 - $30 dollars a day to maintain each individual ape in research facilities, while the cost of maintaining a chimpanzee in a sanctuary would be $8 - $15 dollars daily.[53] As it turned out, the sanctuary facilities themselves are also two to three times cheaper to construct than housing facilities at research institutions.[54] In addition to economic benefits, the sanctuaries also provide chimpanzees with a greater quality of life in terms of the social interactions and the inherently richer environments that they offer.[55]

Several researchers had testified before Congress regarding their interest in retiring chimpanzees at their facilities. For example, Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in Atlanta had 75 chimpanzees that were ready to be retired to sanctuaries immediately. Also, the former-Coulston chimpanzees were in need of relocation. The Senate estimated that between 200 and 800 chimpanzees could be transferred to the sanctuary system in the coming years.[56]

 

III. The Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act

The CHIMP Act designates all chimpanzees that have been used, or were bred or purchased for use, in research conducted or supported by any federal agency, and which are no longer needed for such research as "surplus chimpanzees."[57] All surplus chimpanzees that are owned by the federal government must be permanently retired into the sanctuary system that was created by this legislation.[58] Initially, the CHIMP Act included a provision that allowed retired chimpanzees to be temporarily removed from their sanctuaries and returned to research laboratories to be used as research subjects; however, that provision was removed in a 2007 amendment called the Chimp Haven is Home Act.[59]

The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for implementing the CHIMP Act and for promulgating regulations governing the care and management of retired chimpanzees in the federal sanctuary system.[60] The Secretary of HHS delegated the authority to establish and operate the sanctuary system to the Director of the National Institutes of Health, who subsequently delegated that authority to the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). Essentially, NCRR must contract with a qualified nonprofit organization to establish and run a sanctuary system that adheres to the minimum standards set forth in the CHIMP Act and in HHS regulations.[61] That nonprofit organization, which is called the “Sanctuary Contractor” or “Primary Contractor,”[62] may subcontract with other sanctuary facilities that meet the established standards and that are approved by NCRR. The Sanctuary Contractor is required to contribute 10 percent of the construction costs of the sanctuary facility and 25 percent of the maintenance costs for the chimpanzees housed therein.[63] The Federal Government is responsible for providing the remainder of the funds. The Sanctuary Contractor must provide special, quarterly, and annual progress reports to the designated federal officials as identified in the contract.[64] The annual report must also contain a statement that certifies the sanctuary is in full compliance with HHS’s minimum standards of care.[65] NCRR is responsible for monitoring the performance of the Sanctuary Contractor and any subcontractors. A NCRR Project Officer[66] must conduct scheduled site visits at least once annually (or more often if necessary) and review monthly and quarterly reports submitted to the Project and Contract Officer. The failure of a Sanctuary Contractor to comply with the CHIMP Act or HHS’s regulations could result in sanctions or termination of the sanctuary contract.[67]

Sanctuary Governance and Staffing: 

The Sanctuary Contractor must appoint a Board of Directors, consisting of no more than 13 qualified members,[68] that is responsible for developing policies to ensure that the sanctuary system complies with the CHIMP Act mandates discussed below.[69] In addition to a Board of Directors, the Sanctuary Contractor must also have a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), who is appointed by the Board and who is responsible for the daily operations of the sanctuary and other delegated tasks.[70] The Sanctuary Chimpanzee Care Committee (SCCC), which is appointed by the CEO or President, is responsible for overseeing the chimpanzee care and socialization program and facility operations to ensure that the health and safety of the animals and staff are effectively addressed.[71] As part of its oversight duties, the SCCC must conduct a formal review of the program semiannually and submit reports to the Sanctuary Director. Those reports are not submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (the agency that enforces the Animal Welfare Act) or NIH, but must be made available to agency representatives during site visits.[72] 

The Sanctuary Director, who oversees the organization’s employees,[73] must be experienced in chimpanzee care and socialization, as well as management and administration.[74] All professional, managerial and support staff must have “appropriate experience,”[75] and the level of staffing must be sufficient to ensure that the chimpanzees are well cared for.[76] In addition to administrative, animal care, and facility maintenance staff, all sanctuary facilities must employ trained or experienced personnel in certain specified fields. For example, sanctuaries must have on-site security staff[77] to ensure the physical safety of the animals. Also, the sanctuaries must employ a behavioral scientist with knowledge of primate behavior to design a program and set guidelines for the well-being of the chimpanzees.[78] All sanctuaries must also have a “Facility Veterinarian”[79] and a “Biosafety Officer” who has experience with biosafety issues related to chimpanzees.[80] Facilities that house contaminated chimpanzees must employ a veterinarian who has knowledge of infectious diseases of chimpanzees.[81]  

Eligibility and Acceptance of Chimpanzees into the Sanctuary System: 

All “surplus” federal government-owned chimpanzees must be admitted into the sanctuary system, regardless of whether they have been exposed to, or infected with, an infectious disease.[82] A chimpanzee that is owned by other public or private entities may be accepted in to the system if: (1) there is available space for the animal in a sanctuary;[83] (2) the previous owner transfers legal ownership of the chimpanzee to the sanctuary system; (3) the previous owner pays a fee, if required;[84] and (4) all other criteria for acceptance into the sanctuary system (as determined by the Sanctuary Contractor and NCRR) have been satisfied.[85] Once a chimpanzee is admitted into the sanctuary system, he or she can never be transferred out of the system,[86] returned to a research facility[87] or euthanized[88] as a means of population control.[89] A chimpanzee may only be euthanized if it is necessary for medical or humane reasons, and doing so is in the best interest of the animal, as determined by the SCCC and the Facility Veterinarian.[90] Whenever possible, the SCCC must review and pre-approve the proposed euthanasia of an animal; however, if an emergency euthanasia must be performed without SCCC pre-approval,[91] the Committee must review the euthanasia after the fact to ensure that it was done in compliance with established policy.[92] 

Minimum Standards for Sanctuary Facilities:

All sanctuaries must create a safe and species-appropriate physical environment[93] for chimpanzees which includes sufficient space with natural and artificial objects and structures that allow the animals to engage in species-typical behavior and activities[94] while confining them within a defined area.[95] Contaminated animals must be housed pursuant to an established biosafety program that will prevent transmission of infectious diseases to other animals and humans.[96] The procedures for maintaining contaminated animals must be developed by the SCCC and approved by NIH.[97] All sanctuary facilities must be designed in accordance with the The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, where applicable,[98] and with HHS regulations.[99] All facilities must have safe and sanitary indoor and outdoor habitat areas that offer ranging space; nesting or sleeping areas; protection from exposure to weather elements and extreme temperatures; and places for the animals to retreat from perceived threats by humans or other animals. In addition, all sanctuaries must have on-site medical treatment facilities, isolation/quarantine and social introduction areas, as well as food preparation and storage facilities.[100] All sanctuaries must provide adequate security barriers to prevent the escape of animals and the unauthorized entry of humans. In addition, they must develop and maintain disaster and escaped animal contingency plans.[101]

In addition to the animal care, record-keeping, and transportation requirements in the Federal Animal Welfare Act[102] and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Welfare Regulations,[103] sanctuaries must operate in compliance with all other applicable federal, state, and local laws.[104] Also, sanctuaries must receive accreditation from a nationally recognized animal program accrediting body (such as the AAALAC, the AZA, or a similar recognized body), within a reasonable time frame.[105]

Minimum Standards of Care for Chimpanzees:

In addition to complying with the minimum standards of care in the Federal Animal Welfare Act and in USDA’s accompanying regulations,[106] all sanctuaries must comply with the following minimum standards of care established by the Department of Health and Human Services. Chimpanzees must have access to food, water, and bedding at all times.[107] Food and water receptacles must be maintained in a sanitary condition. Indoor enclosures must be cleaned daily, or more often as necessary “to maintain a clean and healthy environment.” Outdoor enclosures must be cleaned on a routine basis, and although outdoor ranging areas are not required to have a routine cleaning schedule, they must be maintained to prevent the accumulation of excessive waste or other unhealthy conditions.[108] The chimpanzees must be observed on a daily basis in a manner that causes minimal disturbance to the animals.[109] Chimpanzees may be trained to cooperate with various veterinary and animal care procedures through positive reinforcement techniques. The animals must never be trained using physical punishment.[110] 

All chimpanzees must be provided with “adequate veterinary care,” as set forth in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.[111] Such care must be administered on a daily basis (including weekends and holidays) by qualified personnel.[112] Sanctuaries must implement programs for the surveillance, detection, prevention, and treatment of infections, parasites, viruses, diseases, and other medical problems.[113] Chemical restraints may only be employed if necessary for certain medical procedures or for the safety of the animals or caregivers. If physical restraint is ever deemed necessary, “due consideration must be given to the temporary or permanent effects upon the chimpanzee and human and animal safety concerns.”[114] The SCCC is responsible for receiving and resolving concerns about the care of chimpanzees.[115] 

Permissible Activities Involving Chimpanzees in the Sanctuaries:

Chimpanzees may not be exhibited to the public for compensation. However, educational activities which involve limited viewing of the animals in their environment to promote an understanding of their behavior, well-being, or importance to the ecological system may be allowed as long as the activities do not adversely affect the chimpanzees’ routines.[116] All proposed educational programs must be approved by the SCCC.

“Invasive research,”[117] such as experiments involving deliberate exposure to infectious diseases, radiation, or other harmful substances; surgeries or surgical implantation of devices; drug testing; intentional infliction of distress or physical discomfort; anesthesia, restraint, invasion of body cavities, or unnecessary manipulation of social groups is strictly prohibited.[118] However, “noninvasive”[119] biological or behavioral studies that do not involve the removal of the animals from their social group or environment, such as visual observation, interaction between chimpanzees and caregivers, medical examinations that are necessary for the health of the animals, provision of essential medical care, and administration and evaluation of environmental enrichment objects are permitted.[120] All noninvasive study proposals must be approved by the SCCC and research applicants that have violated the Federal Animal Welfare Act are ineligible for approval.[121]  

Chimpanzees in the sanctuary system may not be bred or allowed to naturally reproduce.[122] All male chimpanzees accepted into the sanctuary system must be sterilized by vasectomies performed by experienced veterinarians.[123] In addition, all nongovernment-owned female chimpanzees must be rendered permanently incapable of reproduction by tubal litigation, or other effective procedures.[124] The SCCC is responsible for establishing and overseeing a birth-control program for the animals.[125] 

 

IV. The National Chimpanzee Sanctuary System

On September 30, 2002, Chimp Haven, Inc.,[126] a non-profit sanctuary in Keithville Louisiana was awarded a ten-year $30 million dollar NIH contract to serve as the first Sanctuary Contractor under the Chimp Act.[127] Approximately 40% of the award was spent on construction of sanctuary facilities on 200 acres of land donated by the citizens of Caddo Parish, leaving 60% for the care and maintenance of sanctuary chimpanzees.[128] The first CHIMP Act retirees, Rita and Teresa,[129] arrived at the sanctuary on April 4, 2005.[130] The two chimpanzees had been taken from Africa in the 1960’s for use in NASA’s space program. When they were no longer needed by NASA, they were sent to research laboratories to spend decades confined in 5 foot x 5 foot x 7 foot cages and used in scientific research experiments until they were both in their 40’s. A 2005 New York Times article recounted their first day of retirement in the Federal Sanctuary System. 

[T]he two chimps were shown to their spacious new sleeping quarters, complete with fresh running water and cross-ventilation, multiple windows and skylights, hammocks made of neatly crosshatched sections of used fire hose, bedding of warm blankets and hay, vanity mirrors, as well as a TV, a VCR and DVD and CD players. Following a long nap, Rita and Teresa awoke to a couple of banana smoothies and were shown the door to their courtyard. As it was recalled to me by a staff member, they paused a moment to regard the somewhat otherworldly prospect of a wide-open, odor-free patio, a playground jungle gym and, just beyond the play yard's far walls, their own private five-acre expanse of grapevine-laced pines and sweetgums. And then, as if in some unwitting primate pantomime of the very Apollo 11 moonwalk they'd helped to make a reality, they stepped out into the sunlight and tentatively down onto an equally unfamiliar earth.[131]

As of April 30, 2008, 127 government-owned or supported chimpanzees had been transferred to Chimp Haven. The current contract expires in 2012, and according to NIH, it is unclear whether additional funds will be appropriated to provide ongoing support to the chimpanzees that are currently at Chimp Haven and to provide sanctuary to the chimpanzees that remain warehoused in laboratories for lack of available sanctuary space.[132] According to the Federal Government’s own estimates, there are still several hundred more “surplus” chimpanzees who, pursuant to the CHIMP Act, must be sent to federal sanctuaries. Yet, more than a decade since the passage of the CHIMP Act, those animals have still not been sent to sanctuaries.  

 

V. Conclusion

In 2006, the Emmy-winning PBS series Nature launched a film called Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History. The film reflects a growing national concern for the welfare of captive chimpanzees. According to the filmmakers, “many have been used to test our drugs or to help develop our vaccines, others have been infected with our most frightening diseases.”[133] Yet, “we never considered what they wanted or needed. But their side of the story is starting to emerge. And it can be heard at the sanctuaries where many retired chimps now reside. It can be read in their medical records, seen in their mutilated bodies, or sensed through their psychological afflictions.”[134]

Until the passage of the CHIMP Act just over a decade ago, very few lab chimpanzees were released to sanctuaries, and the few private sanctuaries that took in former lab chimps received no federal funding for the very expensive long-term care of those animals. Without appropriate sanctuary facilities or adequate resources, hundreds of “surplus” laboratory chimpanzees had no prospect of a future outside of the research facilities. Because of the CHIMP Act, more than a hundred government-owned laboratory chimpanzees are enjoying a peaceful and dignified retirement at Chimp Haven, the country’s first federally-funded chimpanzee sanctuary.

[Chimp Haven] is a veritable chimpanzee Jurassic Park, a shining example of just how far we can extend the inherently paradoxical process of trying to liberate and dignify a wild creature within captivity. It's all a direct answer and antidote to the days of the old inner-city-zoo ape house, where all that the inhabitants got was the equivalent of a tiled public lavatory stall with a token section of log and a metal nameplate secured out front, a dot on a silhouette of Africa indicating the captive's original home.[135]



[1] Yerkes National Primate Research Center, History, available at http://www.yerkes.emory.edu/about/history.html (last visited Jan 22, 2011).

[2] Id.

[3] The facility was eventually renamed the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and moved to Atlanta, Georgia. It has the country’s oldest population of captive research chimpanzees. Jon Cohen, The Endangered Lab Chimp, Science Magazine Vol. 315, Jan. 26, 2007.

[4] Jon Cohen, The Endangered Lab Chimp, Science Magazine Vol. 315, Jan. 26, 2007.

[5] Jon Cohen, The Endangered Lab Chimp, Science Magazine Vol. 315, Jan. 26, 2007.

[6] While some members of the scientific community have maintained that the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research experiments is vital for the diagnosis and treatment of many human diseases, no scientist or scientific institution had actually conducted a “scientific evaluation and objective appraisal of the necessity and human benefits derived from research on captive chimpanzees” until a few years ago. In 2007, the results of the first such scientific study were published in a report called: Chimpanzee Research: Its Contribution to Biomedical Knowledge and Efficacy in Combating Human Diseases. That study found that of 749 scientific experiments that were conducted on chimpanzees between 1995 and 2004, there were “no studies of captive chimpanzees that made an essential contribution, or, in a large majority of cases, a significant contribution of any kind towards papers describing well-developed prophylactic, diagnostic or therapeutic methods for combating human diseases, including major diseases such as AIDS, cancer and hepatitis.” Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D et al., Chimpanzee Research: Its Contribution to Biomedical Knowledge and Efficacy in Combating Human Diseases, New England Anti-Vivisection Society, (2007). In its evaluation of the 2007 Bailey study, the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine explained that “in one dataset of more than 700 articles reporting chimpanzee experiments involving diagnostic, prophylactic, or therapeutic methods, only 14.7 percent were even cited by studies of human subjects. Upon closer examination, nearly two‐thirds of those were broad literature reviews, and 12 appeared to repeat previous human studies. In the end, only three articles arising from chimpanzee experiments informed human medical studies at all; of these cases, the chimpanzee results were inconsistent with human data rather than predicting human responses. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Scientific and Ethical Imperatives for the Great Ape Protection Act (HR 1326) (2009).

[7] S. Rep. No. 106-494 (2000).

[8] Hearing on the FY 2008 Budget Before the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (2007) (statement of Project Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees). As of 2007, there were an estimated 1,300 chimpanzees in laboratories throughout the U.S. Id; For-profit organizations, such as pharmaceutical companies, use chimpanzees in research and product development. Many of those chimpanzees are housed at private research facilities and are maintained, but not owned, by the for-profit companies. National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 26 (National Academy Press 1997).

[9] Hearing on the FY 2008 Budget Before the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (2007) (statement of Project Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees).

[10] S. Rep. No. 106-494 (2000).

[11] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 5, 67 (National Academy Press 1997).

[12] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 5, 67 (National Academy Press 1997).

[13] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 5, 67 (National Academy Press 1997).

[14] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 5, 67 (National Academy Press 1997).

[16] 50 CFR § 17.40.

[17] 55 Fed. Reg. 9129-01.

[18] The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which was signed by the U.S. in 1973 also had a major global impact on the subsequent availability of wild-caught chimpanzees for scientific research.

[19] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 6 (National Academy Press 1997).

[20] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 7 (National Academy Press 1997).

[21] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 49 (National Academy Press 1997).

[22] S. Rep. No. 106-494 (2000); National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 8 (National Academy Press 1997). At a daily cost of $20 dollars per individual, the government was spending approximately $1.8 million dollars annually to maintain those surplus chimpanzees. Id. at 57.

[23] S. Rep. No. 106-494 (2000).

[24] In fact, no effective HIV vaccine has been developed after more than 25 years of scientific research on chimpanzees and other primates. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Scientific and Ethical Imperatives for the Great Ape Protection Act (HR 1326) (2009). Of 80 HIV vaccines that were effective when used in chimpanzees, none were effective in humans in approximately 200 human trials. Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D, An Assessment of the Role of Chimpanzees in AIDS Vaccine Research, ATLA 36:381‐428 (2008).  

[25] There are no restrictions on breeding privately owned and supported laboratory chimpanzees.

[26] http://www.ncrr.nih.gov/comparative_medicine/chimpanzee_management_program/ (last visited Jan. 21, 2011); Despite the moratorium, NIH has continued to fund some research projects that involve breeding of chimpanzees. For example, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has a $22 million dollar contract with the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) to provide 10 to 12 infant chimpanzees annually for ten years for the agency’s research. NCRR also gave NIRC $5.47 million from 09/00 to 08/05 to maintain 138 chimpanzees for breeding. The agency spends more than $1 million annually to maintain the NIRC breeding colony. Hearing on the FY 2008 Budget Before the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (2007) (statement of Project Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees); In 2010, the Senate asked NCRR to investigate the matter and to insure that NIRC is complying with the moratorium. S. Rep. No. 111-243 (2010).

[27] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 77 (National Academy Press 1997).

[28] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 16 (National Academy Press 1997).

[29] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use, Appendix A (National Academy Press 1997); http://www.ncrr.nih.gov/comparative_medicine/chimpanzee_management_program/ (last visited Jan. 22 2011).

[30] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use (National Academy Press 1997).

[31] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use (National Academy Press 1997); Hearing on the FY 2008 Budget Before the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (2007) (statement of Project Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees).

[32] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 7 (National Academy Press 1997). The following chart illustrates the ownership, support, and use of the estimated 1,500 chimpanzees:

OWNERSHIP, SUPPORT, LOCATION, USE

NUMBER

OWNED BY NIH (excluding 99 in NIH breeding program)

341

OWNED BY US AIR FORCE

135

IN NIH BREEDING PROGRAM (including 99 owned by NIH)

538

BREEDING ADULTS AND OFFSPRING NOT IN NIH PROGRAM

35

PREVIOUSLY USED IN INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERIMENTS

350

CURRENTLY BEING USED FOR EXPERIMENTS OR AVAILABLE FOR EXPERIMENTATION

100

 

 

TOTAL

1,499

 

 

PRIVATELY OWNED, NOT EXPECTED TO TRANSFER TO GOVERNMENT

-500

RECOMMENDED FOR CONSOLIDATED GOVERNMENT OWNERSHIP OR SUPPORT

999

Id. at 73.

[33] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 4 (National Academy Press 1997); But see, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Scientific and Ethical Imperatives for the Great Ape Protection Act (HR 1326) (2009) (citing Y. Kozorovitskiy et al., Experience Induces Structural and Biochemical Changes in the Adult Primate Brain, 102 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 48, 17478-17482 (2005)). Recent data from investigators at Princeton University suggest that even non-contaminated animals may not be “healthy.” According to that data, minimum standards of care for primates housed in laboratories are “inadequate to promote normal brain development and function.” The study, which examined how the laboratory environment affects structure and functions of adult primate brains, found that even the most enriched laboratory condition could amount to a deprived condition relative to the natural environment and that the brains of captive primates do not appear to be “normal” brains at all. Id. Premature separation from their mothers, isolation, and poor housing conditions in research laboratories leads to psychological damage in chimpanzees, which often manifests in repetitive movements, self-mutilation, and abnormal social and reproductive behaviors. M. Brune et al., Psychopathology in Great Apes: Concepts, Treatment Options and Possible Homologies to Human Psychiatric Disorders, 30 Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 8, 1246‐1259 (2006); M. Brune et al., Psychiatric Treatment for Great Apes?, 306 Science 5704, 2039 (2004). “In one study of chimpanzees with histories of long‐term confinement and varied use in research, pathologies were observed among the majority of groups. Some pathologies were so common they were determined to be habitual (exhibited by 61 to 80 percent of group members) or customary (exhibited by 81 to 100 percent of group members). The pathologies ranged in severity from rocking or consuming their own feces to compulsively plucking out their hair or slapping themselves.” Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Scientific and Ethical Imperatives for the Great Ape Protection Act (HR 1326) (2009).

[34] In fact, NIH had adopted a policy that prohibits the use of euthanasia as a method of population control. Hearing on H.R. 3514 Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act Before the House Committee Subcommittee on Health and Environment (2000) (statement of John Strandberg, National Institutes of Health).

[35] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 9 (National Academy Press 1997).

[36] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 6 (National Academy Press 1997).

[37] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 4 (National Academy Press 1997).

[38] National Research Council, Chimpanzees in Research: Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use 30,60 (National Academy Press 1997).

[39] S. Rep. No. 106-494 (2000).

[40] The Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care and Doris Day Animal League 21 Air Force Chimpanzees to Be Retired to Sanctuary;  Year-Long Lawsuit Dropped, PR Newswire (Oct. 28, 1999); Jane Goodall Shocked at Air Force Decision to Give Space Chimps to Research Laboratory, PR Newswire (Aug. 6, 1998); At the time of the transfer, about half of the chimpanzees had already been used in HIV and hepatitis research. U.S. Air Force Sends 30 'Space' Chimpanzees Into Permanent Retirement  at Primarily Primates; Oldest and Largest Primate Rehabilitation Center in the U.S. Prepares to Receive Chimps Bred for Use in America's Space Program, PR Newswire (Aug. 11, 1998). The subsidies that the Coulston Foundation received from the federal government also sparked public criticism. In the 15 months between February 22, 1999 and May 18, 2000, the Coulston Foundation received approximately $1.1 million dollars from the National Institutes of Health, despite the agency’s “awareness of the shortcomings at the Coulston Foundation.” Hearing on Biomedical Research and Chimpanzees Before the House Committee on Commerce, Subcommittee on Health and Environment (2000) (statement of John Strandberg, D.V.M., Ph.D., National Center for Research Resources, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

[41] $1 Million Dollar Pledge for Forgotten Space Veterans Moves Air Force Chimpanzees Closer to Permanent Retirement, PR Newswire (Apr. 3, 1998).

[42] In re: Alamogordo Primate Facility Southwest National Primate Research Center, petition for administrative action filed Sept. 23, 2010 (Dept. of Health & Human Services); Shannon Brownlee, Surplus Chimps Stranded in Research Controversy, Washington Post (May 15, 2000); Hearing on H.R. 3514 Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act Before the House Committee Subcommittee on Health and Environment (2000) (statement of Representative Anna G. Eshoo).

[43] Philip Brasher, Research Foundation Settles Abuse Complaint, Agrees To Give Up Chimps,  Seattle Times, Sept. 2, 1999. In 2002, the Coulston Foundation transferred 266 chimpanzees to the Florida-based Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care as part of a $3.7 million dollar deal with the sanctuary. Kathy A. Svitil, Late Retirement for the Space Chimps, Discover: Science, Technology, and the Future, Jan. 2003, available at http://discovermagazine.com/2003/jan/breakchimps (last visited Jan. 22, 2011).

[44] Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 106-551, § 2, 114 Stat. 2752 (2000).

[46] Hearing on H.R. 3514 Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act Before the House Committee Subcommittee on Health and Environment (2000) (statement of Representative James C. Greenwood).

[47] Hearing on H.R. 3514 Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act Before the House Committee Subcommittee on Health and Environment (2000) (statement of John Strandberg, National Institutes of Health); Shannon Brownlee, Surplus Chimps Stranded in Research Controversy, Washington Post (May 15, 2000).

[48] Hearing on H.R. 3514 Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act Before the House Committee Subcommittee on Health and Environment (2000) (statement of John Strandberg, National Institutes of Health).

[49] Hearing on H.R. 3514 Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act Before the House Committee Subcommittee on Health and Environment (2000) (statement of Representative Sherrod Brown).

[50] Hearing on H.R. 3514 Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act Before the House Committee Subcommittee on Health and Environment (2000) (statement of Representative Anna G. Eshoo).

[51] Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 106-551, § 2, 114 Stat. 2752 (2000); http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d106:HR03514:@@@L&summ2=m& (last visited Jan. 21, 2011).

[52] Hearing on H.R. 3514 Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act Before the House Committee Subcommittee on Health and Environment (2000) (statement of Alfred M. Prince, Head of Virology, Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute).

[53] S. Rep. No. 106-494 (2000).

[54] S. Rep. No. 106-494 (2000). For example, Primarily Primates, a nonprofit sanctuary in Texas, constructed housing for 30 chimpanzees at a cost of $750,000, or $25,000 per animal. On the other hand, the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana built housing facilities for 36 chimpanzees $2.448 million, or $68,000 per animal. Id.

[55] S. Rep. No. 106-494 (2000).

[56] S. Rep. No. 106-494 (2000). The Congressional Budget Office estimated that approximately 750 chimpanzees were candidates for permanent retirement in the sanctuary system. That number assumed retirement of all of the chimpanzees that had been contaminated in the course of research and who, as a result, posed a threat to human health. The estimate also included about one-half of the chimpanzees that were either “surplus” breeding animals or that had been held for research but not used. Id.

[59] Chimp Haven is Home Act, Pub. L. No. 110-170, § 2(a), 121 Stat. 2465 (2007). Currently the research that may be conducted on retired chimpanzees is limited to noninvasive behavioral studies of the animals, and medical studies based on information that is obtained while the animals are receiving veterinary care. 42 U.S.C.A. § 287a-3a(d)(3).

[66] “Project Officer” means the individual designated by the Federal Government to represent the contracting officer and interests of the federal agency, within defined areas, in monitoring and overseeing the chimpanzee sanctuary system contract. 42 C.F.R § 9.2.

[68] 42 U.S.C.A. § 287a-3a(e)(3); The Board must include at least one veterinarian with expertise in nonhuman primates, and members that have experience or expertise in the following areas: zoological science, behavioral primatology, animal protection, business, non-profit management, animal care program accreditation, and biohazard containment. Individuals that have violated the Animal Welfare Act are ineligible for Board membership. 42 C.F.R § 9.3.

[71] 42 C.F.R § 9.3(a)(2)(xiii); The SCCC must have at least five members, and must include one of each of the following: a chair person who is “knowledgeable of the needs of chimpanzees;” a veterinarian with chimpanzee care experience; an experienced chimpanzee behaviorist; a member of the chimpanzee care staff; and a member of the community who is affiliated with an animal protection organization. Id.

[79] “Facility Veterinarian” means a person who has graduated from a veterinary school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education, or who has a certificate issued by the AVMA's Education Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates; has training and/or experience in the care and management of nonhuman primates; and has direct or delegated authority for activities involving chimpanzees at the federally funded chimpanzee sanctuary. 42 C.F.R § 9.2.

[83] To date the federal sanctuary system does not have facilities with available space for privately owned chimpanzees.

[88] “Euthanasia” means the humane death of a chimpanzee accomplished by a method that produces rapid unconsciousness and subsequent death without evidence of pain or distress. The method must be consistent with the recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia. 42 C.F.R § 9.2.

[91] All euthanasia decisions must be made by the Facility Veterinarian in consultation with the Facility Director or Deputy Director. 42 C.F.R § 9.6(d).

[92] 42 C.F.R § 9.3(a)(2)(xiii); Sanctuaries are required to establish a policy on euthanasia that includes conditions that must be met before euthanasia will be allowed, and guidance for performing euthanasia. 42 C.F.R § 9.6(d); 42 C.F.R § 9.6(d)(2).

[94] Examples of such activities include but are not limited to natural movements, climbing, swinging, resting, running, group interactions, sleeping, etc. 42 C.F.R § 9.6(b)(2).

[98] For example, all sanctuaries must have perimeter containment to protect the compound housing the chimpanzees consistent with the recommendations of the Guide. 42 C.F.R § 9.4(b); The Guide is published by the National Research Council, 1996, International Standard Book Number 0-309-05377-3. It is available online, at http://oacu.od.nih.gov/regs/guide/guidex.htm.

[107] 42 C.F.R § 9.6(b)(1). Exceptions are permitted when medical or behavioral conditions dictate otherwise. Id.

[117] Invasive research (studies) utilizes those procedures that cause more than momentary pain, distress, fear, discomfort, injury, or other negative modalities to a chimpanzee. Any procedure that enters or exposes a body cavity is considered to be invasive. This definition excludes any invasive procedure that is a part of veterinary, medical, or surgical care that is performed by or under the direction of the Sanctuary Veterinarian using acceptable veterinary practices. 42 C.F.R § 9.2.

[118] 42 U.S.C.A. § 287a-3a(d)(2)(A); 42 U.S.C.A. § 287a-3a(e)(2)(G)42 C.F.R § 9.3(a)(2)(x). The CHIMP Act requires that necropsy records from chimpanzees previously used in federally funded research projects be made available on a reasonable basis to investigators engaged in biomedical or behavioral research. 42 C.F.R § 9.8.

[119] Noninvasive research (studies) means the use of procedures that depend upon close observation of chimpanzee behavior or on medical information collected during the course of normal veterinary care. These procedures do not require removal of the chimpanzees from their social group or environment, or require a separate anesthetic or sedation event to collect data or record observations. 42 C.F.R § 9.2.

[120] 42 U.S.C.A. § 287a-3a(d)(3)(A); 42 C.F.R § 9.3(a)(2)(x). The sanctuary must obtain and maintain an Animal Welfare Assurance from NIH's Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) when chimpanzees are used for noninvasive studies. 42 C.F.R § 9.12.

[121] 42 C.F.R § 9.3(a)(2)(xiii); The SCCC membership may require additional qualified individuals to perform the functions of an Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) if and when the need arises. The contractor may establish a separate ACUC. The ACUC must be established in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Animal Welfare Act regulations, the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and the CHIMP Act standards of care. Id; 42 U.S.C.A. § 287a-3a(d)(3)(B).

[127] News Release, National Institutes of Health, NIH Funding Establishes a Chimpanzee Sanctuary (Sept. 30, 2002), available at http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/sep2002/ncrr-30.htm (last visited Jan. 22, 2011). The contract is administered by NIH/NCRR’s Division of Comparative Medicine.

[129] Teresa died at Chimp Haven on January 7, 2011; she was 46 years old.

[131] Charles Siebert, Planet of the Retired Apes, N.Y. Times, July 24, 2005.

[135] Charles Siebert, Planet of the Retired Apes, N.Y. Times, July 24, 2005

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