Amended CHIMP Act Allows More Chimpanzees to Retire to Federal Sanctuary

Anne Haas

On Wednesday, November 27th, President Obama signed into law a Chimp Haven Photobipartisan 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. Continue reading

Gaga Wears Meat, Chimps Turned Into Bushmeat — A World Gone Horribly Awry

David Cassuto

So even as I fight to keep my gorge down after seeing Lady Gaga in a meat bikini (about which more soon), I know her offense against fashion and compassion pales in comparison to what’s going on out in the bush.

Congolese chimps are being slaughtered for “bushmeat” at an alarming and grotesque rate.  Here’s an excerpt from an article in The Guardian:

They are some of the most mysterious apes on the planet that according to local legend, kill lions, catch fish and even howl at the moon. But according to an 18-month study of remote human settlements deep in the Congolese jungle, chimpanzees are being subjected to a “wave of killing” by bushmeat hunters.             Continue reading

Habeas for Chimps

David Cassuto

I will soon be blogging from Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, to be precise).  More about that soon.  While in Rio, here‘s a case I’ll be following:

Jimmy is a 26 year old chimpanzee who has spent several years alone in a cage, where he’s on exhibit at a zoo in Niterói, Brazil, just outside of Rio de Janeiro.  Just last week, animal protection groups filed a motion to have Jimmy released on grounds of Habeas Corpus, arguing that he is being denied his rights to freedom of movement and to a decent life, in Rio’s Criminal Court.  Continue reading

More Human than Humans

Michael Friese

As the years go by mankind finds that it has more in common with its ape cousins than previously thought.  The ape that humans have the most in common with is the chimpanzee.  Emory University may have closed the gap even further with a new play entitled Hominids.  In this play humans enact a true story of intrigue that occurred within a troop of chimpanzees in the 1970s.  The most interesting thing about the play is that the actors are not pretending to be chimpanzees, rather the play’s  approach is to enact the story as if it were humans upon whom the story is based.

A summary of the play is as follows:

“A conniving kingmaker and his young protégé conspire to overthrow a popular king. Their plot fails, so they murder him instead. The kingmaker then installs his protégé as ruler. The young king does not properly reward his mentor, however, so the kingmaker selects a new protégé. Together, they torment the young king to the point of madness. He throws himself into the palace moat and drowns.
The brutal power struggle reads like a Shakespearean tragedy, but it actually happened on an island of captive chimpanzees at a Holland zoo during the late 1970s.”

The implications of this play are far reaching.  It intends to leave spectators wondering what makes us human.  The play asks how different are chimpanzees than humans?  Specifically these questions have important effects on the ethics of medical testing on human’s closest relatives.  If chimpanzees’ actions are so close to human actions, then how can we justify testing on chimpanzees in situations where testing on humans would be unethical?

Chimpanzees have and are used in biomedical research because of their close genetic similarity to human beings.  In some cases chimpanzees are the only available nonhuman species that can be infected with the microorganism that is being studied.  Two well known microorganisms whose creation of vaccines depended on the testing of chimpanzees, are Hepatitis B and C.

Continue reading

Exotic Pet Rhetoric

I should probably blog more on current animal events of the day but I seem to dwell in a limbic space many hours behind the news cycle and constantly butt up against the law of diminishing relevance.  For example, this whole chimp- mauling thing…  Since we all know the gruesome details, I’ll confine my comments to the recently introduced Captive Primate Safety Act, which just passed the House.  The bill seeks to ban interstate commerce in primates for the exotic pet trade.

The legislation itself is straightforward enough and currently awaits action in the Senate.  Perhaps more noteworthy than the bill’s passage was the rhetoric of those who opposed it.  For example, Rob Bishop of Utah and Paul Broun of Georgia felt that protecting humans from “monkey bites” should be solely the job of the states.  Rep. Bishop perseverated about the Congress having far more important matters to tackle (i.e the stimulus bill, the war(s), etc.).  Apparently included in that crucial national business were two bills Mr. Bishop had sponsored that deal with minor land transfers.  Hat tip to Wayne Pacelle’s blog for that particular skinny.

I confess that Michael Markarian’s comments on the issue also have left me non-plussed.  He seems solely concerned with the (very real and disturbing) human tragedy of the attack and the potential for more such incidents.  He does not mention the exploitation of the animals and the fact that, even when such animals attack, they are simply acting like what they are — wild animals.  It is an ongoing sadness that when wild animals get captured and indentured and then act like what they are, their destruction and denouncement inevitably soon follows.  Perhaps during a lull amidst Rep. Bishop’s pressing national business, someone in Congress could speak about that.

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