The Humane Society and other animal rights activists are calling for 15 young chimpanzees used for research by the National Institutes of Health and housed at a Rockville laboratory to be sent to an animal sanctuary rather than back to the Louisiana research center that owns them.
“The Humane Society of the United States is encouraged that this invasive chimpanzee research program is ending and believe this is one of several indications that the United States is moving closer to a time when chimpanzees will no longer be used in harmful experiments,” Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues at The Humane Society, said in the statement. “However, it is disappointing that 15 young chimpanzees from Bioqual have already been, or soon will be, shipped to New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana, rather than a chimpanzee sanctuary.”
The statement also called on Congress to pass the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, which supporters say would retire the nearly 500 government-owned chimpanzees to permanent sanctuaries while saving taxpayers $25 million a year.
An online petition calls for Dr. Francis S. Collins, NIH’s director, to “use the considerable influence of the National Institutes of Health to ensure that the fifteen young chimpanzees used at BIOQUAL, Inc., in Rockville, Md., are released to a sanctuary."
NIRC is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act. A chimpanzee died while in transit from Bioqual to the center last year, Nature reported.
Elizabeth Kucinich, director of public and government affairs for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and the wife of Congressman and former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), created the petition.
Kucinich wrote a Fourth of July blog post about the petition on Huffington Post titled “Free the Rockville 15!”
The petition had 23,685 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.