"The testing began shortly after Bobby’s first birthday. By the time he was 19 he had been anesthetized more than 250 times and undergone innumerable biopsies in the name of science. Much of the time he lived alone in a cramped, barren cage. Bobby grew depressed and emaciated and began biting his own arm, leaving permanent scars. Bobby is a chimpanzee. Born in captivity to parents who were also lab chimps, he grew up at the Coulston Foundation, a biomedical research facility in Alamogordo, N.M., that was cited for repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act before it was shuttered in 2002." - Scientific America (From "Ban Chimp Testing", September 28, 2011)
About 1200 chimpanzees are currently used for research and testing. The U.S. uses more chimpanzees for research and testing than any other country. The only countries that stilll use great apes for invasive research purposes are the United States and Gabon (a tiny country in western Africa).
(Chimpanzees in research and testing worldwide: Overview, oversight and applicable laws, Kathleen M. Conlee, The Humane Society of the United States, USA, Read about worldwide research.)
There are Alternatives
I am sure there are a host of valid medical related research projects that will be affected, and that as someone who is not currently inflicted with any of the diseases, in which ape based research may help, makes this a difficult decision - on its face. However, there are scientifically sound alternatives. It is for that reason, along with the cost savings, great ape invasive research only continues in just two countries. Further still, great apes are sometimes used even though they may not be the best subjects for the research. For example, a recent study concerning simian subjects for HIV/AIDS research at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York makes it clear that the virus doesn't even replicate in some, and in others it doesn't develop into AIDS. Though they have found rhesus and macaques to be susceptible.
(Alternatives - Proceedings of the 6th World Congress on Alternatives & Animal Use in the Life Sciences, Tokyo, Japan March 31, 2008 - Read the Article)
(Coreceptor use in nonhuman primate models of HIV infection - Read the Study)
This debacle disheartens me.
Even if you are one of the few who believe great apes may or may not be self aware, conscious, feel pain or loneliness just as we humans do, then stopping this atrocity is a no-brainer moral judgement call. If you are not sure, you are still obligated to find out first. However, the fact that we do observe that our closest relatives feel, think, reason, learn, and have emotions means it is time for this immoral practice to come to an end. Our labs have spilled enough blood. It's time to leave this disgrace for our history books, and herald in a well deserved moral axiom of respect for great apes.
A bill has been introduced into the US Senate and House that will enact a statute of protection for great apes. I recommend you read the bill, as it is short, sweet, and to the point. It was defeated once already years ago. Help me, or rather help them, ensure this bill passes. Forward a short email to your congressional representatives.
Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act of 2011
Sentate Bill: S.810
House Bill: H.R.1513
Bi-Partisan Bill Sponsorship By:
Senator Maria Cantwell D-WA
Representative Roscoe Bartlett R-MD
Read the Bill & Check Bill Status
S. 810—The Great Ape Protection Act
On April 13, 2011, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced S. 810, the Great Ape Protection Act. On the same day, Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) introduced its companion bill, H.R. 1513, in the House. This legislation would (1) prohibit all invasive research on great apes, including chimpanzees, (2) prohibit the government breeding of chimpanzees for research purposes, and (3) require the retirement of Government-owned chimpanzees. S. 810 was referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works while H.R. 1513 was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Status as of 9/11/2012: The following is the continuing and current status;
Latest Major Action: 7/25/2012 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Environment and Public Works. Ordered to be reported with an amendment favorably.
I have no idea when this will be passed in the senate or the house, as it appears to be one of those bills that just sinks to bottom of the pile. In light of the upcoming elections, I'm pretty sure nothing of import will happen until next year. :(
What you can do:
Ask your federal legislators to support H.R.1513 and S.810. You can look up your representative on the House of Representatives website, while your senators can be found on the official Senate website.
Contact your Senator and House Representative
I've listed the Louisiana representatives below, since that's where I'm from, for ease of access to my local friends. However, further below you'll find a link where you can find out who your representatives are, and how to contact them.
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Senator David Vitter (R-LA)
House Congressman Steve Scalise
All Senators - Find your Senator!
All House Reps - Find your Rep!
(For better targeting, please choose your particular representative that is on the Energy and Commerce Committee)
I'm writing today to plead for your support of H.R.1513, The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act of 2011. Please help the United States join with the many other countries that have already issued bans on invasive research using apes and chimpanzees. The time has come for us to leave this immoral practice to its rightful place - our history books.
I'm writing today to plead for your support of S.810, The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act of 2011. Please help the United States join with the many other countries that have already issued bans on invasive research using apes and chimpanzees. The time has come for us to leave this immoral practice to its rightful place - our history books.