On Wednesday, November 27th, President Obama signed into law a bipartisan bill to support the retirement of research chimpanzees.
Earlier this year, the National Institute of Health (NIH) announced plans to retire about 90 percent of U.S. government-owned chimpanzees currently used in medical research to Chimp Haven, a national chimpanzee sanctuary in Keithville, Louisiana. However, the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act, signed into law in 2000, placed a $30 million cap on spending for federally owned chimpanzees in sanctuaries. NIH was expected to reach that cap in mid-November, affecting both the retirement and care of chimpanzees in laboratories and at Chimp Haven.
The current bill, sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Ranking Member Henry Waxman, amends the CHIMP Act, allowing NIH to spend money once reserved for research to support the retirement of nearly 300 chimpanzees to Chimp Haven. “This legislation will ensure that when chimpanzees are retired from medical research that they are well cared for and live the remainder of their lives in a natural setting,” said Louisiana Senator Landrieu., a strong supporter of the Act.
Sanctuaries provide a higher standard of living for chimpanzees than laboratories, at a lower cost. As a result, the Act could result in federal savings of well over $2 million per year. “This legislation not only improves the lives of chimpanzees,” said Chimp Haven President and CEO, Cathy Willis Spraetz. “It also extends continued savings to taxpayers, given our cost effectiveness.”