Government Labs Retire Research Chimps

Government scientists are putting all but 50 research chimpanzees out to pasture. The chimps will live out their lives comfortably at a federally funded sanctuary. Nine of the retiring primates are already enjoying a post-lab existence at Chimp Haven.

The retired research chimps will soon be joined by seven more furry pals at the Louisiana facility. A total of 95 more chimpanzees will be arriving in the near future, Science World Report notes. The primates had been used in a study focused on their human-like behavior. The most recent study targeted their ability to judge fairness.

The decision to send the research animals to a sanctuary is touted as a big step forward for lab test subjects. The National Institutes of Health suggested the chimps have plenty of space for playing and climbing in their new habitat. The governmental agency has also called for “major cuts” to laboratory chimp studies. Breeding the lab chimps to create more study subjects may also be coming to an end.

The Eddie D. Jones Nature Park in Keithville is the location of Chimp Haven. The sanctuary encompasses 200 acres of open space. The chimps will have year around access to the outdoor areas, quite a big change from their lab environment. The retiring chimpanzees will also have bountiful amounts of dirt, grass, and mulch to enjoy.

The government research animals will finally be able to pounce among the trees in their new Louisiana home. The chimp sanctuary includes enough climbing area that the group can rest, roam, and feed above ground.

Although the haven may be a just reward for their years of service, it comes with a steep price tag. A $30 million cap was placed on the construction and chimp care costs. The Humane Society is requesting that Congress use money for research contracts to the Chimp Haven account, CBS News notes.

The Chimp Haven mission statement reads:

“Chimp Haven serves as The National Chimpanzee Sanctuary. We are an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide humane care for chimpanzees that have been used for biomedical research, or other purposes, and which are no longer used for those purposes. To provide large, enriched and permanent housing for these animals in accordance with all state and federal regulations pertaining to the care and housing of these nonhuman primates. To provide noninvasive research opportunities on the behavior and biology of chimpanzees and to disseminate this information to others in publicly available formats. To educate the public about these endangered nonhuman primates and the needs for conservation in the wild and protection in captivity.”