Wonderful things are happening in the world of chimpanzees. On June 26, the National Institute of Health (NIH) announced that they would begin the process of retiring most of their research chimpanzees to sanctuaries where they will be free of any medical testing and experimentation. The decision will affect about 310 NIH owned animals over the next few years, placing them in havens where they cannot be recalled for future research.
However this decision does not completely end research on all NIH chimpanzees. A small community of about 50 chimps will remain on site in case they are required for urgent human health research. New guidelines for testing and housing will be put into effect in order to provide better conditions for these remaining chimps.
The NIH decision has been in the works for quite some time now after several outside efforts to protect both captive and wild chimpanzees. Groups like The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have been fighting for changes in chimpanzee research regulation. “This is a great day for the chimpanzees, and we’ve seen a number of them recently,” said Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues at the HSUS. NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins expressed similar sentiments, stating “Chimpanzees are very special animals…They are our closest relatives [and] we believe they deserve special consideration.”