A bill — first introduced on April 17th, 2008 — to end invasive biomedical research and testing on an estimated 1000 chimpanzees in the U.S. has finally made its way to the Senate floor.
If passed the bill, H.R. 1326 in the House of Representatives and S. 3694 in the Senate, would not only end invasive experimentation on chimps, but would also release hundreds of federally owned chimpanzees into sanctuaries.
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Currently more than 200 chimps are being “warehoused” in Alamogordo, N.M., where experimentation on them has ceased since an agreement in 2001 to allow the chimps to enter retirement. But many of these chimps are now facing the horror of being research tools once again. Fifteen chimps from this location have already been sent to a facility in Texas, where they are scheduled to be used in biomedical research. And the National Institute of Health intends to move the rest of them by the beginning of 2011.
This is a “bad idea” according to Gov. Bill Richardson, who stated, “I am going to fight to keep the chimpanzees in Alamogordo.” He would like to see the facility turned into a primate sanctuary.
After spending a decade of time and millions of dollars using chimpanzees for HIV/AIDS research — which has yielded no results — you might think researchers would realize the futility of their actions. After all AIDS does not affect a chimp’s body in the same way that it does our own
The fact that many diseases react differently in other species’ bodies raises the question: Is all animal experimentation fundamentally flawed?
If a disease like AIDS doesn’t cause illness in a species that carries 96% of our genes, what kind of results do experimenters expect to get by testing on non-primate species such as rats and mice, which make up the bulk of animals used in labs?
The passing of the Great Ape Protection Act would save taxpayers over $20 million a year. During a time when the federal deficit continues to grow, throwing money away on abusive and inconclusive experiments on our closest living relatives seems not only cruel, but also terribly wasteful.
The United States is the last country in the world to permit large-scale, invasive research on great apes like chimpanzees, according to Noelle Callahan from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
It would be a huge step in the efforts to protect great apes if this bill should pass. But it leads one to ask: what of the other billions of animals still trapped and confined in federal, university and private laboratories?
If we provide protection to great apes because they are so much like ourselves, we should provide protection to all animals that feel pain and share in the desire to be free from suffering, just as we do.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to pass the Great Ape Protection Act!
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